Quick Taste: Oxford Landing Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2015


I confess – I drink very little Sauvignon Blanc. I have grown very tired of the identikit cat pee style of wine that New Zealand mastered and marketed so successfully that now everyone wants to make it.

Everyone bar the French, bien sûr.

So imagine my surprise when, on opening this bottle of wine and expecting the worst (that is, more of the same) I was faced with something completely different and yet still identifiably Sauvignon Blanc.

Rather than focussing on those pungent herbaceous characters this wine is much more restrained and shows off pineapple and passionfruit. It’s approachable, easy drinking and perfectly clean and correct with enough refreshing acidity to make you come back for me.

The best part is that this wine retails around the $9. Yes, that’s right. Just $9.

I think this is absolutely banging value and this is a wine I would not hesitate to buy as summer rolls around.

Also note its relatively low alcohol content.

(I also tried the Pinot Grigio in the same line. It didn’t excite me quite as much but it’s another wine that represents good value for money.)

Oxford Landing Estates, sample. RRP $8.99.
10.5% abv


Whistling Duck 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon


Like I’m sure almost everyone reading this, the run up to Christmas and beyond is hectic. I’d like to offer up several reasons (read, birthdays) why our December is more hectic than most … but I know that everyone finds themselves in that predicament. Even work Christmas parties appear to be getting earlier and earlier (Andy missed his while we were away – and that was early November).

With more parties, BBQs and Christmas drinks than you can throw a shoe at, my December action plan always ensures that I get in a collection of reasonably priced wine that I can have ready to go when I need to head somewhere. Early in the month, I had a stash of the ever reliable Thorn-Clarke Riesling but as December marched on, stocks were running low.

Of course, I’m signed up to plenty of wine related email lists who all wanted to sell me something but the one that caught my eye (arrived on the right day) was one from Virgin Wines. I’d used Virgin Wines for about a year or so when I’d lived in the UK and had had no troubles so, given the generous nature of the offer (a case of wine and two bottles of Prosecco for $100, delivery inclusive) I had to give it a go.

A lot of the bottles from the mixed case have been distributed far and wide and remain untasted by me. Of the wines I have tried they have been quite hit and miss. There was a Chardonnay in the case which was actually quite OK and the red I am currently drinking is a very approachable, even if not madly interesting, wine. And given that I’ve paid under $10 a bottle for them, I am happy with the return on my investment.

Unfortunately, this Sauvignon Blanc Semillon didn’t repay me in quite the same manner. Someone went crazy with the ‘fruitiness’. My gut feeling is that this is the kind of wine that could well be a hit with younger drinkers who are taking their first steps with wine.

I was also underwhelmed that by purchasing this case I rather unwittingly signed myself up to a regular 3-monthly delivery of wines. I unsubscribed from that quick smart!

The wine

Very pale in the glass.

Nose quite pronounced and definitely showing off the Sauvignon Blanc. Gooseberry, lychee with a strong grassy, and even dried grass, back note.

Palate – very “fruity” and rather smacking of some sugar – again the Sauvignon Blanc is at the fore but with melon and passionfruit. Not bad acidity but not really enough to back up the ‘fruitiness’. It is a little short and one dimensional although it does have a reasonably satisfying savoury herbal twist to it.

Best served cold and for drinking, rather than intellectualising.

The RRP on the Virgin Wines site is $17 a bottle, which is, in my opinion, too much. However, I bought it in a case where it worked out at under $10 a bottle … and at that price point, if you like this type of wine, it is probably OK.

Virgin Wines.
12.0% abv

Greywacke 2011 Sauvignon Blanc


At home I have a fruit bowl and in that fruit bowl goes not only fruit but all the scraps of paper on which I’ve written tasting notes.

I do also have a tasting notebook but today the fruit bowl is closer and so, in what is best described as a lucky dip, I pulled out a pile of tasting notes that I’d written on wines I’d used in a WSET course. The notes are dated 19 August. That’s not 10 days ago – that’s 375 days ago. I’m sure that gives you some kind of insight into me … not entirely sure what it says though!

As a rule, I am not a fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Not because I have an issue with them, per se, but they’ve become such a lazy choice for a certain type of drinker. I’ve actually been out with people who look somewhat crestfallen when there isn’t a NZ Sav Blanc on a wine list. Similarly, I hate that so often wine lists overlook good, local examples and yet feature a raft of second string NZ wines.

Little rant over. I am a massive fan of Greywacke. My first introduction to the brand was the Riesling (one seriously exciting wine there) and, as one of the required wines to teach at Level 2 is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, this has become very much my go to wine.

Greywacke is run by Kevin Judd, a nice bloke, who also happens to be ex Cloudy Bay. He should know what he’s doing with Sauvignon Blanc. And he does.

While these notes aren’t on the current release, the few vintages I’ve tried have been pretty consistent of wines, so the following will give you an idea of what you will get, even if not an exact match. The wine is usually well received (and well liked) in class too.

In the glass the wine is very pale yellow. So pale that it’s almost water white.

As you’d expect with a Sauvignon Blanc, the nose is pronounced with pungent green pea and passionfruit, with hints of green capsicum, gooseberry and even a touch of the obligatory cat’s pee.

In the mouth, good acidity backs up a palate which shows a lot more tropical fruit. The passionfruit is definitely there, much more pronounced than on the nose and there’s just a whisper of green capsicum. Good length.

The current available release in Adelaide appears to be the 2012 which you will be able to pick up for around $25-$30 from good bottle shops such as The Ed Cellars and East End Cellars.

Greywacke also produces a Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc which is slightly more expensive.

Zenith 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

This wine was part of a mixed case we bought from some random on line deal. It was super cheap: I think it worked out at about $5 or $6 a bottle and the logic was that at least we’d have some wine kicking around the house for vinous emergencies.

It’s a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and was produced by New Zealand Wine Cellars. If you google that it won’t take you too long to figure out where we bought it from. Or just read to the bottom!

The nose was pronounced gooseberry with a hint of something vegetal – think asparagus or green pea, but don’t get too specific.

On the palate, the acidity wasn’t bad at all but it wasn’t very persistent. The palate was very green and wrapped up with a touch of passionfruit. The length was not great and for me the wine finished slightly hot, with a bitter edge which wasn’t that pleasant.

It was as though a lot of effort had been put into ensuring those typical primary fruit flavours were there, but not a lot of thought had gone into the wine as a whole.

This is a wine that absolutely delivers on typicity and I suspect that it does the job for die hard NZ Sav Blanc drinkers. I can’t utter any wise words about how it compares with other Savvy Bs available at this price point.

Clean, but boring and homogenous, and the finish really doesn’t work for me.

This wine was purchased from Cellarmasters, as part of a mixed dozen, average bottle price about $6.
Closure: screw cap.

Gerard Boulay Chavignol Sancerre 2010


I’m sure we’re all aware of how immensely popular Sauvignon Blanc is in Australia. It’s a shame that we drink so much New Zealand SB when we could drink perfectly decent local stuff, but that’s marketing for you.

Like so many people with an association with the wine trade I’m not a big Sauvignon Blanc drinker – mainly because I often find them all fitting a particular stylistic mould – and that can be a bit dull.

However, French Sauvignon Blanc tends not to fit that mould – it’s a little calmer, more understated, not quite as out there.

And Sauvignon Blanc is exactly what Sancerre is. Sancerre is a village in the Loire in northern France and it was, until the twentieth century, known for red wine production. Not so the case today, where is produces what is possibly one of the two most famous Sauvignon Blancs France has to offer (the other being Pouilly Fumé, which is across the river).

This tasting note for the Gérard Boulay Chavignol Sancerre 2010 was written after the day after the wine was opened.

In the glass, it is a pale yellow. The nose is smokey, with green pea the dominant note, backed up with lemon and lime.

On the palate, the acidity is racy and persistent. There is a ton of citrus (much more so than on the nose), with green pea and capsicum, backed up by good length.

This is a good wine and very much my cup of tea. If you want to get into French Sauvignon Blanc, this is a lovely place to start. Of course, being imported, it’s not cheap – but if you can see your way clear to spending the money, grab a good friend, some soft goat’s cheese (another specialty of the area in which this wine is produced) and you’re good to go.

This wine was purchased from the Edinburgh Cellars, $42.
Closure: cork.