Yealands Estate Single Block L5 Sauvignon Blanc 2012
I was trying to remember why on Earth I bought a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It’s not that I don’t like it, but most of those that I tasted were of an easy-drinking variety which I normally avoid. Checking my notes I found that I bought it at Sydney Good Food and Wine Show in 2015 which meant that I had an opportunity to “try before buy” and the selection was made quite consciously (despite the number of wines that I tasted there I always spat them out so my judgement was not impaired). Interestingly, the vintage was 2012, so even a year ago, at the time of the purchase, the wine was already 3 years old. Provided that most Sauvignon Blancs are only good for a year or two after bottling, the Yealands‘ creation promised to be something unusual. And it was!
When I just opened Yealands Estate Single Block L5 Sauvignon Blanc 2012 it didn’t feel special — grassy, a bit yeasty bouquet, rather fizzy (that’s NZ Sauv Blanc after all!), with white peach and gooseberry flavour. The only remarkable thing was that the wine retained so much liveliness after 4 years. In fact, when I later checked the winemaker’s tasting notes I found that the maximal recommended cellaring period was exactly 4 years, so it was high time to open that bottle.
By the way, I’ve always wondered how useful all those peach and gooseberry reminiscences are. White peaches are easy to purchase in supermarkets but mostly they have a very subtle varietal flavour which is absorbed into a general perception of something nicely fresh. This is because in supermarkets they are sold unripe and they aren’t given a chance to reach olfactory perfection. The only places where you can find fully ripe specimens are farms or farmer’s markets, but how many people visit them? It’s even worse with gooseberries. When did you last see or taste a fresh gooseberry in Australia? Me — never. Only once I found gooseberry jam which was made on a remote farm which I will never visit just for the sake of buying fresh gooseberry. As to the jam, it bore little resemblance to the fresh fruit, with all characteristic flavours having been cooked away. The only thing that retains its taste during jam preparation is pips, but it’s not their taste that I had in mind.
|Name:||Single Block L5 Sauvignon Blanc|
|Date of purchase:||09/08/2015|
|Date of tasting:||10/09/2016|
I didn’t try to find a special food match for that wine, one reason being that I didn’t know what to make of it — it wasn’t your regular Sauvignon. Still, the wine was too acidic to drink on its own so I had it with whatever food was available at that time. Firstly, I tried it with the duck curry that Ivan cooked for Koonara Pinot Noir, and found that the wine cut nicely through the spicy coconut of Thai red curry and acted as a palate cleanser.
After that initial tasting I entered one of those periods when I didn’t feel like drinking white wine. I don’t remember why exactly — could be too cold, we went travelling, or some other reason, but the upshot was that the opened (but not open) Yealands bottle spent 3 weeks in the fridge. Imagine my surprise when I found that this experience produced the same effect on that Sauvignon Blanc as I usually observed in red wines — the taste had improved. The bouquet has developed sweeter notes and had NZ kiwi fruit in it (you know, those sweet golden ones), while the palate became mellow, but still dry.
The winemaker recommended to pair that Sauvignon Blanc with clams, asparagus and some such tasteless food which serves more as a filler between sips of wine rather than enhances it. However, after that taste transformation the Single Block L5 shifted towards the territory of Fumé Blanc and could be matched with richer dishes. For example, I found that it went quite well with pork sausages — something that I never expected from an unoaked Sauvignon Blanc.
Yealands Estate Single Block L5 Sauvignon Blanc 2012 was one of those wines that I bought out of curiosity. It was unusual enough when I tasted it fresh before the purchase. By my rules it warrants buying one bottle, which I did, but further purchases depend on how good the first bottle was. The wine surprised me by improving after 3 weeks in the fridge which shifted my opinion in its favour. If I found a really great food match for it I would definitely give it 3 stars. As it stands, I am in two minds and will give it a cautious rating of 2.5.