The New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is a stalwart of the London wine list. Even the most wine-wary have probably tried a glass with its distinctive notes of gooseberry and passionfruit. A globally popular choice there is world-wide demand, which is why the current shortage is causing a stir.
“The 2021 harvest, while of exceptional quality, was 19% smaller than the previous year. New Zealand wine sales for 2021 were 324 million litres, meaning they were 48 million litres more than was actually produced in the 2021 vintage” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.
Chris Stroud, Market Manager for Europe New Zealand Winegrowers says “Sauvignon Blanc remains immensely popular with growing international demand. Despite the challenges faced by the short vintage of 2021 and global supply chain issues, it is encouraging to see that even during these uncertain times, consumers continue to choose a premium product they know that they can trust. However, the lack of supply available is a very real issue and successfully managing the market impacts of the resulting supply constraints is a challenge for many in the New Zealand wine industry”.
Technical Director of the excellent Cloudy Bay, Jim White, described how, as well as a poor 2021 harvest there was “the logistical nightmare of getting a boat to anywhere else in the world. There was a shortage of ships coming and taking our containers away”. It is true that supermarkets and suppliers are reportedly receiving far less than their usual quota so if you like this wine, now is the time to stock up for summer.
It does however allow for some investigation of the other fantastic varieties coming out of the country, which are finally due their moment in the spotlight. “The shortage of Sauvignon Blanc provides an opportunity for consumers to explore our other distinctive varieties, such as our other aromatic whites, Chardonnays, Pinot Noir and fuller bodied reds. Indeed, while the Rosé category is in decline in the UK Off Trade, Rosé from New Zealand is growing at 33% by volume and value” continues Stroud “We are very fortunate in the UK as there is a wide range of New Zealand wines available here enabling consumers to discover the diversity we offer.”
If you have a specific Sauvignon craving and your local has run out however, it is worth looking to other New World countries producing similar styles. Chile is proving to be very adept at the grape and I would recommend Vinã Leyda (£12 Tesco) whose expressive elegance guarantees it as a crowd pleaser and Mud House (£9.99 Majestic) who took their experience in Marlborough and recreated those beloved tropical, grassy notes here. South Africa is also one to watch with renowned estate Vergelegen offering a beautifully juicy Sauvignon Blanc which tastes like fresh white figs and gooseberries (£10 Tesco).
Whether trying Sauvignon from a different country or tasting the variety of excellent alternatives coming out of New Zealand, the silver lining is the potential for fresh, new discoveries.
Billecart Salmon Rosé NV – Selfridges £65.50
Currently on offer, this champagne house is renowned for being something special. Their rosés are particularly excellent, being a beautiful golden pink and full of delicate red berries and fresh citrus making a perfect pairing for sushi or a stylish aperitif.
Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Reserve Chardonnay 2019 – Amrit Wines £22
Named best vineyard in Africa in 2020, this is a richly elegant wine showing ripe stone fruits and aromatic vanilla from its excellent use of oak, all underpinned by a fresh streak of stony minerality. You can practically taste the sunshine.
Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Vaillons 2019 – Waitrose £28.99
A charming Chablis from Premier Cru grapes this is fresh and delicate, full of white blossoms, ripe green apples and bright citrus, with a long, sophisticated finish. Enjoy with your buttery dover sole or grilled fish.
Black Estate Pinot Noir – Specialist Cellars £29
Earthy wild roses and deep, dark berries this delightful Pinot Noir from New Zealand’s North Canterbury exudes rustic elegance. A region that is making a name for itself, this wine is made biodynamically, so it is good for the planet too.
Yealands Reserve Grüner Veltiner – Waitrose £12.99
Premium range from a sustainable winemaker, this aromatic white with its notes of honeysuckle blossom, green apple and a sprinkle of white pepper makes for an excellent alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. A brilliant option for Asian cuisine.