The Sauvignon Blanc offering in Marlborough is splitting into two distinct styles, according to New Zealand winemaker Ben Glover.
Speaking to db in London last week after his Mr Glover brand won a listing with Tesco, Glover said that two Sauvignon strands were emerging in NZ.
“It’s getting increasingly hard for producers to make Sauvignon Blanc that sells in the UK in the £9-10 bracket, as the production costs keep rising, but good quality Sauvignon under £10 can still be produced in poor years.
“We’re starting to see a tale of two Sauvignons in New Zealand – those that sell at supermarkets for under £10, and the more niche and expensive single vineyard expressions that tell the terroir story.
“There is a danger that the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc bubble might burst and we have to think about that as winemakers.
“It’s still a relatively new phenomenon in the US, but the UK is a mature market for us and is seeking interesting new things from New Zealand.
“We’ve got a beige quilt of Sauvignon Blanc coming out of New Zealand right now and the industry is split into the big corporates that feed the millions and the enthusiastic small players, which we need to challenge the norm. The smaller guys are starting to get more attention but it’s tough.”
For the moment though, Paul Schaafsma, founder of Benchmark Drinks, which distributes the Mr Glover range in the UK and Ireland, thinks the bigger challenge lies in there being enough Kiwi Sauvignon to go around.
“Sauvignon Blanc is planted out in Marlborough and the category is still growing in the UK, so there could be a danger of there not being enough to go around if sales keep growing.
“We need to make sure that we can continue to deliver the volume that consumers are demanding around the world,” Schaafsma told db.
Mr Glover Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir have just been taken on at 155 Tesco stores across Ireland priced at £9 and £12 a bottle, and the range is due to go on sale at UK Tesco stores next March.
The Sauvignon is a blend from two Marlborough sub-regions, while the Pinot grapes hail from Glover’s vineyards on north-facing slopes in Marlborough.
“I want people to get what they want from my Sauvignon, be it nettles or guava – I don’t want one aroma to stick out more than the others. It’s a food friendly wine as it has a salinity to it.
“Patio pounders are fine, and I want the flavours to be pronounced, but not overpowering in the way some Marlborough Sauvignons can be. I’ve never been big on thiols,” Glover said.
“My next step will be a single vineyard Sauvignon, but you have to take the lows with the highs when making single site wines and they tend to need more explaining to consumers.
“If I were to expand the range it would either be with a Pinot Gris or a Chablis-esque Chardonnay, as I’m a big NZ Chardonnay fan,” he added.
In addition to the Mr Glover range, Benchmark Drinks also distributes Sir Ian Botham, Graham Norton and Sarah Jessica Parker’s wine ranges.