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