So, rattage at long last! I decided to do a comparative tasting of the Old World 09 Sauvignon Blanc with Kent Rasmussen's Esoterica Sauvignon Blanc 2010. I might open the Wellington SB later just for devilment, but I'm entirely satisfied with these two at the moment.
A pale greeny-clear is the Rasmussen, though this might be the decor. Very clear.
The Old World is definitely a deeper yellow, almost browny yellow, in a mid-light kind of way.
Wow, these are different:
Rasmussen has that cclear, classic New Zeaand kind of gooseberry nose, with a hint of grass and butter. Refined, promises layers if strong on the fruit.
The OWW (see he cork..) is entirely different. Smells of, hmm, an old house? The glue you find in grandma's cupboard? Burned sugar, perhaps! I can't describe it. Definitely charred! caramel, in the purest, best sense!
Palate: probably 15-20 mins opened in glass, out of fridge. Definitely drink these medium-cool: not too warm, but let them rest 10-20 mins out off the fridge.
Rasmussen: Mmm, not as sharp as I expected! soft-edged SB, not concentrated, but the acid slowly builds up over time in the glass, say 10 seconds, to fill your mouth with yummy acid-style minerality. Soft, mouthwatering, with gentle gooseberry hints, notes of grapefruit, a little gentle soft buttery feel, but only a little, but very subtle ones, and lively lively acidity on the palate which at no point is too sharp, or too malic-sour, or too fruity. Just tastes like clean-style Sauvignon Blanc as it really should. Pehaps a little oak, or was it jsut warming too much, .Definitely keep this one on the down side of 55 degrees. I could drink this all day and it will go with smoked salmon quite nicely I think. Ooh, later on it has a little grape tannin in the end too, I feel. Or it's opening up more. And at no point does it get sour. A masterpiecem and manifestly a SB!
OWW is an entirely different beast. Yet it's also very very good! It tastes aged or something. I wouldn't spot this as a Sauvignon Blanc if you served it after doing the Haka and trouncing me at rugby. Nor if you called it Chateau le Bordeaux-Varietal-Typique. It certainly tastes fumé. Perhaps Ruisseau Sec Fumé, or Couloir Sec Fumé. It is quite malic underneath, but not oppressively so: firm without being overpowering, providing quite a nice backbone, but doucement. A touch of grapefruit, just a hint, to make me think of Sauvignon Blanc at last. And, yes, some butter, but not too much, round or nasty as in the dodgy end of California Chards. Just a little to balance out the malic and brighter acids. Definitely nicely balanced: not austere, so not one for ageing, but also not all butter, and not all grapefruit. Delightful.
It's not as "fresh" as the Rasmussen: it has darker tones, as if it lives in an orange post-apocalyptic world, as a little bright-green-stemmed flower, showing lively ochre petals among the decay and conflagration.
You can drink this on its own. I'd not cellar this, as it's not super high in acidity and lose its freshness, but at this moment now, it's a unique SB the sort of which I've never tasted. Less acidic than the 04 Pouilly Fumé from Michel Redde I had last Sunday, and won't last half as long, but for a young drinker, this is remarkably complex, unusual, and both approachable and interesting! It has enough acid, and plenty of flavour. Neither of these wines relies too heavily on fruit: it's there, lively and present, but not the single-minded track of most Sauvignons Blanc. The Rasmussen is definitely grapefruitier, especially as they warm up, but not too much so: it's just less oaked.
Oak? Can't really taste it: Hmm, that must be the burned flavours! So, not huge fruits, but god acidity, and yes, a little soft tannin on the back end, even a hint of sweetness from it, but only to contrast with the present, gently sharp acidity.It has enough acid to balance the subtle oak: indeed it took me a long time to identify any oak.. it's not unsubtle like most oaked whites you'll try. In fact it's a great white for anyone who likes unoaked whites but always hankers after a bit more complexity!
Congratulations: this is a superlative white wine, and to make it like this so young, is truly wonderful! I drank it on its own, but you could probalby pair it with gentle white fish. It's not strong enough to take the sharpest foods, as it might then lose its focus. Probably best on its own, or with amuses-bouches!
These are wines for connoisseurs, AND for new wine-drinkers. They will be amazed. This is the most original SB I've ever tried, and while there may be deeper, more concentrated, more cuttingly acidic or even more complex whites, this has depth, layers, and balance at this age, and with freshness without astringent acidity. Approachable, yet a wine which shows us some of the nuances and deeper pleasures that drinking good wine can bring. This is a most unusually interesting experience!
Buy this and serve it to all your friends, for as with the Rasmussen SB, they will love it and wonder what one-dimensional rubbish they might normally associate with this grape!