March 5th 2018
How does Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc differ from Marlborough?
Explore something a little different...
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is renowned for its quality around the world, and despite 80% of the varietal volume being produced in Marlborough; it’s reassuring for those of us looking to push the boundaries to know that the opportunity exists to locally explore something a little different.
Unsurprisingly, the differences between Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc rely heavily on the terroir, with the ultimate differentiating factor being climate. Church Road Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc is typically kiwi in style – machine harvested, fruit driven, aromatic and tank fermented, without oak influence. Ultimately, the production of this wine uses similar techniques to many of those from Marlborough – with the grape growing region being the major differentiating factor.
Church Road Sauvignon Blanc vines are located in the cooler areas of our Hawke’s Bay vineyards, and although this provides a cooler climate within the region, this growing area remains warmer than that of Marlborough. The result is naturally lower acidity in the wines we produce, with softer and rounder textures. Marlborough is well renowned for its fresh acidity – a product of the cooler climate however if you’re without a high tolerance for acidity, Church Road Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc with a gentler and easy-drinking style may be your solution.
In a comparison of flavour, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc tends to display a similar range of herbal and fruit flavours, but the Hawke’s Bay wines will have more emphasis on the riper, fruit driven elements (passionfruit, elderflower and pink grapefruit) while by comparison, the Marlborough wines tend towards more noticeable herbaceous notes (tomato stalk and currant leaf for example).
One aspect of winemaking that is apparent across both winemaking regions is the influence of oak. Both regions produce superb expressions of Sauvignon Blanc using oak. Our winemaker Chris Scott explained “the best of the Marlborough wines are taut and focused with a razor like line of acidity, where the oak plays the merest supporting role. Hawke’s Bay lends itself particularly well to a richer, rounder oaked style, with the extra mouthfeel coming from our warmer. Subtle hints of creaminess and vanilla from barrel fermentation give the palate even more texture without being obvious or overly dominant. It is still a distinctly different wine, but I describe it as Sauvignon Blanc for Chardonnay drinkers”. This is simply due to the lower acidity of grapes grown in the slightly warmer climate, making Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc excellent food matching wines.
While Marlborough has long been the star of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Hawke’s Bay offers something a little different for those of us looking to explore alternative expressions and with the added complexity and texture oak can bring, there is a plethora of exciting food matching ideas to discover.