2007 Te Koko; when you are going for a Sauvignon Blanc…


Didier Dagueneau did it. Showed us that Sauvignon Blanc can be picked at a very ripe stage, matured in oak and still keep a fine level of acidity without becoming clumsy. Cloudy Bay has done it as well with their impressive Te Koko. Ever since I bumped into kiwi Sauvignon Blanc for the first time, geeh, must have been like in the mid-90’s, I’ve liked it. They have kept on delivering accessible and easy-drinking wines since. I like the straight-forward Sauvignon Blanc grape and the feeling of you know what you get. For me, the grape has for many years been my preference for an easy-going summer wine, instead of a tutti-frutti driven rosé which seems to be the current fashion for uncomplicated summer drinking.

However, Sauvignon Blanc can be more than that. There’s the bottles you will remember for years as well, be it the greatest Loire’s, Bordeaux or kiwis. But for some reason, I’ve never had the Te Koko from Cloudy Bay, a wine with the potential of belonging to the greatest.

When the NZ wine guru Bob Campbell, my indispensable guide towards a life with great kiwi wines, writes highly about the 2007 Te Koko I just know I have to taste it. I mean, who can say no to this: “And now for something completely different … Big, mellow, grassy wine with great mouth feel and an array of flavours that are hard to describe but include asparagus, buttered toast, red capsicum and lifted yeasty characters. Big and complex wine that works for me.”

What makes Te Koko special, at least on the NZ wine scene? First, it is fermented with wild indigenous yeast. Secondly, it matures on French oak for quite some time (although only a small percentage is new) and third, it is first released after three years when considered ready. So, how’s the 2007?

Absolutely gorgeous! When sniffing the 2007 Te Koko I realize why I’m an oak guy; the oak adds an extra dimension to the wine and is beautifully handled. The toasted scents, the tropical fruits, some asparagus, elder, lime peel, wet rocks, sage, mint and fresh mown grass, are pure seduction. Flattering but also restrained. Perhaps the cooler season is to thank although an Indian summer came to a final rescue?

Love the mouth feel. Fresh pineapple, some oriental spice (ginger) and a twist of herbs, especially sage and mint. Sweet, juicy mango. Wet rocks and some gentle toasted scents (ground coffee, vanilla). Fine, lingering acidity and a great length on the finale. Would love to have this served next to some white Bordeaux. I’m telling you, it is competing at this level….

2007 Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudy Bay, Marlborough, 92-93 p

Can be bought here. Wine-searched here.

  • Hi Niklas, it’s refreshing to see that we wine-bloggers don’t always share opinions:


    Did you taste the 2006 Te Koko?

    • NiklasJorgensen

      How boring if we all liked and wrote about the same wines ;-)
      This was my first encounter with Te Koko. I made it easy for myself and checked with Bob Campbell. He gave the 2006 a 88 p rating and the 2007 a 95 p rating. For a first timer the choice was easy! Think 2007 Marlborough has all the prerequisites for gentle oak treated Sauvignon blanc. Except the finish, the season was cooler than normal and that might what made this a great wine?

  • Aha, then Bob Campbell and Finare Vinare weren’t completely out of sync… quite a hike in quality between two years, one daresay ;-)

    BTW, you must try Domaine Laguerres “Le Ciste Blanc”! Very mineral nose with gunflint, flowers, citrus and nice toasty oak. Acids, fruit and stones to keep you going for days…

    • NiklasJorgensen

      Domaine Laguerres Le Ciste Blanc? Yes, please!

  • Te Koko is really a yo-yo between vintages. My first try was a barely ok-ish (and oak-ish) 1998 tasted on-site, 2000 were quite good and 2001 spectacular but the first I bought was a little flappy below-par 2004 (just my luck).

    Try before buy is my advice.

    • NiklasJorgensen

      Or; in Bob we trust! If trying ahead is not an option…
      2007 is really something!


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