Once upon a time, Australia’s white wine vineyards were planted to Riesling. Then to Chardonnay. And then everyone started looking for the next great white.
People got excited because it looked like Albariño, a white grape from Galicia in northern Spain, was going to be it. Interesting wines were being made. It was a distinctive name that was easy to pronounce.
And then it turned out it wasn’t Albariño at all. A French ampelographer (that’s someone who knows a LOT about vine leaves) spotted the problem and, in this day and age, a bit of forensics (OK, just DNA testing) revealed that Australia’s next big thing was actually Savagnin. Cue massive relabelling efforts and more than one out of pocket producer.
Today, Savagnin is grown almost exclusively in the Jura, in France – and Australia. Even though I know the story above well, it’s not a variety with which I’d call myself familiar. Tscharke has a good reputation and, at just under $20 a bottle, I was keen to dip my toe in the water.
A very pale gold wine in the glass, it had a pronounced nose: loads of stone fruit (particularly, I think, apricot), backed up with floral, chalky and citrus notes. Very very appealing. On the palate there was a big lemon/lime hit along with a ton of stone fruit (peach, this time). There was some good acidity, the length was not bad – accompanied by some flavour development, and the wine wrapped up with a slightly nutty, oily finish.
Andy’s comment that the wine was refreshing and “pretty nice”. “Pretty nice” is usually as effusive as he gets – so take that as a recommendation.
At the $20 price point I’d be more than happy to drink this wine again. I have no idea how, in the long term, producers will go with marketing Savagnin. I suspect for most consumers that the name is too close to Sauvignon, and the wine too different from Sauvignon Blanc, for it to make a big impact commercially without some serious effort. I find it interesting that producers have gone for the name Savagnin, because the UC Davis National Grape Registry lists many synonyms that might have had more marketing clout (Aida, for instance, would have been quite cool).
A wine, and a variety, to look out for.
The wine was purchased from Dan Murphy’s for $18.99.
Closure: screw cap.