Survive New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc Shortage With These Brilliant Wines


We should be used to it by now. We face shortages of fuel, cooks, carbon dioxide, farm laborers, truck drivers and maybe turkeys for Christmas as well. But could the next one be the one who finally sends Western civilization to a mortal downfall?

I’m talking about the great shortage of sauvignon blanc in New Zealand in 2021. It sounds like misinformation calculated to spread discontent among Ocado buyers still reeling from a temporary failure in the ability to order Picard peas and frozen – but it’s true and this time no one is blaming Gazprom or Brexit.

The theme this week is fall wines. For those who like a change of drink at the start of the big coat season, I want to go through some of the new bottles on the shelves, picking up some winter reds (ripe half-bottle / burgundy lovers shouldn’t. miss the Wine Society’s halves of Ch. Angludet 2012 at £ 14.95, which will sell out quickly) and watch some of the micro-trends that are surfacing in the wine world.

One of these trends is that Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand is currently very rare. “In 2020 we achieved record exports and unprecedented demand, which in a way is very positive,” says Chris Stroud of New Zealand Wine Growers. A cool spring and late frosts meant that New Zealand’s most recent sauvignon blanc harvest – 2021 – was 18% lower than in 2020, with just 268,079 tonnes of grapes picked compared to 326,058. a bit of a perfect storm, ”says Stroud.

As a result, there aren’t enough New Zealand savvy B’s to go around and, exacerbated by the fact that global supply chain issues have doubled transportation costs, prices “are nuclear,” explains Rob Cooke, Commercial Director of Majestic. Don’t panic (haven’t we heard that line before somewhere?). You will still be able to buy New Zealand Sauvignon, but expect to see fewer promotions and find that some brands are lacking.

At Majestic, they had to withdraw (stop selling) certain lines. And many large retailers are quietly increasing stocks in South Africa and Chile, whose sauvignon blanc has a piercing dynamism similar to that which drinkers adore in Marlborough sauvignon, in the hope that drinkers who buy more by prices will jump to these wines, leaving plenty of Kiwi stuff for those who really want it.

And the Sauvignon Blanc from Loire? Cooke and the Majestic PR, Jack Merrylees, shake their heads. Sauvignon de Loire is grassy, ​​not spicy: delicious, yes, but different; he doesn’t have that piercing “TING”! and appealed to a different client.

South Africa may be a useful source of Sauvignon Blanc, but all of its wines are currently receiving a lot of attention. First of all, they are really good (and good value for money). Second, buyers are proactively supporting the country because its producers have had a tough time in recent years (due to drought and alcohol bans linked to Covid). South African wine producers also have excellent sustainability credentials; together with New Zealand, they launched a sustainable development program within the country more than two decades ago and are still the world leaders in this field.

At Waitrose, look for Great Heart Red and Great Heart White, blends that cost £ 14.99 each and are part of a South African staff empowerment project. At Majestic, Elizabeth Kelly MW, her buyer in South Africa, says she revamped the range with an ‘environmental focus’ and suggests the juicy Villiera Wines Merlot 2020, Stellenbosch (£ 11.99 / 9.99 single bottle / price mix six).

If you are looking for an independent merchant, has a superb South African range. If you want to ‘discover’ a wine before everyone else, try Lourens Family Wines Howard John from Swartland, South Africa ( has the 2019 for £ 25; the 2020, which I tried, is on the way. ‘water) . It’s a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Carignan and it’s magnificent.

Unusual grapes continue to be a popular theme everywhere, with varying levels of success. The one that I loved and highly recommend for the fall is a red made from kékfrancos from Hungary, a new find from the Wine Society. The Sebestyén Kékfrancos 2019 Skekszárd, Hungary (Wine Society, £ 9.95) is a lovely autumnal red, a very smooth, oak-aged wine that smells and tastes of purple fruit and heather with a hint of white pepper and heather. cranberries.

I also loved Croatica GraÅ¡evina 2020 Slavonie, Croatia (tanners, £ 9.95), an aromatic and floral white made from the native graÅ¡evina grape – it tastes like carambola and quince. Meanwhile, Waitrose has added five wines to its Loved & Found range – try arneis from Piemonte in Italy (£ 7.99) if you like tangy, citric whites with a hint of berry.

For comfortable and warm red wines, Spain remains good value for money in the better known and lesser known regions. Almost all supermarkets sell a decent rioja under their own brand. Among the cheapest, Tesco’s Viña del Cura Rioja Crianza 2017 Spain (Tesco, £ 6.75) is good value for money. For something a little different try Baron De Ley Graciano 2018 Rioja, Spain. Most majors of the red rioja on the tempranillo grape. This one is made from 100% graciano and aged in American oak barrels to give a generous red with fragrant notes of mace, cardamom and vanilla that crisscross the garlands of fruit. Ribera del Duero fans might want to try the beautifully textured Dominio Basconcillos Viña Magna Crianza 2018 Spain (Tanners, £ 22), which buyer Robert Boutflower describes as “the most interesting thing I have found in Spain since. years”.

Finally, don’t think that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the only wine shortage to come. Supplies of white burgundy also seem very tight, but more so on another occasion.

Wines of the week

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