A Little Oak in Your Sauvignon Blanc Can Be Magic
For when you’re cat-peed and gooseberried to death.
Township 7 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016 $27
Fumé Blanc. The only two words that conjure up the ’80’s more are Miami Vice. The name was an invention of California vintners trying to dress up the then deeply uncool grape Sauvignon Blanc and the Fumé referred to letting the wine spend a little time getting to know some oak barrels before bottling it. Mondavi pioneered the practice (in California at least) and the coined the name in 1968 but it was that pastel perfect decade of the 8o’s where it really took off. You can still buy Mondavi’s version—it’s great, if pricey, and uses Sauvignon Blanc grown in the famed To Kalon Vineyard—and Murphy Goode still makes one, as does Ferrari-Carano but for the the most part the practice has died down thanks to the complete domination of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc juggernaut that emphasizes freshness and blasts of fruit.
But every once in while you (or at least I) want the freshness and zip of Sauvignon Blanc to be tempered with either the addition of some Semillon (like they do in Bordeaux) or the addition of some time in oak barrels, or both. This wine here is 100% Sauvignon Blanc (Semillon is still very niche in the Okanagan) and the oak it sees is quite modest (only 15% is new oak, the rest is mostly neutral old barrels) but it’s enough to give some gravitas to the operation. There’s still plenty of juicy citrus, but the oak adds a nice element of roundness, a sort of muting for the over exuberance of the grape. The acidity is still there, but it’s less in-your-face and it makes it more versatile for food pairing. Grilled prawns or halibut with a light cream sauce both spring to mind.