Wine Review: Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2012

Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc MarlboroughEver since fellow wine blogger and friend Oliver was kind enough to ask me to contribute a guest post to his excellent blog, The Winegetter, I have been really excited about the idea. Since the theme was “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” and the post was going to be published in the summertime, I thought reviewing one of my favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (Cloudy BaySauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2012 – $30) would just be the way to go: definitely “somewhere beyond the sea” pretty much from anywhere you look at it (unless of course you are a Kiwi!) and a refreshing summer wine. So there we go – and of course: (i) you may find this post also in Oliver’s blog and (ii) thank you so much, Oliver, for including me in your list of distinguished guest contributors – I feel honored and it has been a lot of fun!

The Bottom Line

Overall, I think that Cloudy Bay is a very pleasant Sauvignon Blanc in the “Down Under” style: intense, concentrated fruit and herb aromas, lively acidity and citrus-centric flavors. So very refreshing and summery that I would keep drinking it all Summer long… if budget permitted!  😉

Rating: Very Good and Recommended Very Good – $$

(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)

About the Grape

A few interesting notions about the origins of Sauvignon Blanc: recent DNA analysis has identified a parent-offspring relationship between Savagnin (an old white-berried variety that is common in the Jura region of France) and Sauvignon Blanc and, there being much earlier documents mentioning Savagnin than Sauvignon Blanc, the former is believed to be the parent of the latter. DNA results also support the thesis that, contrary to common belief, Sauvignon Blanc did not originate from the Bordeaux area, but rather from the Loire Valley in France, where documental evidence dates back to 1534 (compared to 1710 in Bordeaux). However, it is interesting to note that, when Sauvignon Blanc was grown in the Bordeaux area, it spontaneously crossed with Cabernet Franc to create Cabernet Sauvignon.

In New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc was first planted in the 1970s and soon became the most widely grown variety in the country, especially in the Marlborough region.

(Information on the grape varieties taken from Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, Allen Lane 2012  – for more information about grape varieties, check out our Grape Variety Archive)

About the Estate

Cloudy Bay‘s vineyards are located in different subzones of the premium wine region of Marlborough at the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island, alongside the Wairau River. Cloudy Bay also sources part of the grapes used for making their wines from a few independent Wairau Valley growers with whom they have established a long-term business relationship.

Our Detailed Review

Let’s now get to the actual review of Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2012, which in the US retails for about $30.

The wine has 13.5% ABV and was made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes sourced from estate and grower vineyards located in the Rapaura, Fairhall, Renwick and Brancott subzones of the Wairau Valley. Fermentation was primarily carried out in stainless steel, except for a small percentage that was fermented in old French oak barriques.

As usual, for my review I will use a simplified version of the ISA wine tasting protocol that we described in a previous post: should you have doubts as to any of the terms used below please refer to that post for a refresher.

In the glass, the wine poured crystal clear, a beautiful straw yellow in color, and thick with narrow arches and slow dripping tears

On the nose, its bouquet was intense, complex and fine, with pleasant, Summer-y aromas of lime, grapefruit, citrus, green apple and herbs (nettle, mint)

In the mouth, it was dry, quite warm, quite smooth; fresh, quite tasty. The wine was medium-bodied and balanced, despite its freshness (i.e., acidity) being the dominating component – but that is in most cases a desirable feature in a dry white wine and in our case it also helped make the quite muscular ABV of the wine not so evident in the mouth, which is a good thing, so it did not change our assessment that the wine was balanced. Its mouth flavors were intense and fine, with pleasant, refreshing notes of lime, grapefruit, citrus and herbs. The wine’s finish was quite long and its evolutionary state was mature, meaning ready to be enjoyed now, with additional cellaring not likely to benefit the wine.

12 thoughts on “Wine Review: Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2012

  1. the drunken cyclist

    How do you think Cloudy Bay stacks up against other NZ SB? I have never had Cloudy Bay since it seems hard to justify the added $$$ for a wine that is so similar to less expensive versions. Thoughts?

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi Jeff! Cloudy Bay sure is in the high end of the market for NZ SB’s. I have tasted a few more NZ SB’s, although not scores. In a nutshell and in no particular order, I have had Kim Crawford (ab. $15) and Brancott (ab. $12) which I quite liked, plus Oyster Bay and Clifford Bay (both ab. $12) which were okay but did not impress me. I have had both the 2011 and 2012 vintages of Cloudy Bay and liked them both, although in my view 2011 was even better than 2012. So, yes, it is more expensive than other alternatives and I would not drink it regularly because of that, but once in a while I am fine paying the higher price tag as I really enjoy the wine. Hope you have an opportunity to give it a go sooner or later, as I would love to hear your thoughts about it.

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you! I love grape varieties’ history information and DNA results too! So interesting, and you get to learn a lot from it. If you are interested in more info about other varieties, you may want to check out the Grape Variety Archive page!
      Take care

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi B! Glad to hear you also like Cloudy Bay. I know, I have to exercise restraint as well when it comes to deciding how to satisfy my thirst for NZ SB! 😉

  2. Red Wine Lovers

    We love Cloudy Bay. If you’re a fan of NZ SB, have you tried Dog Point, or Clos Henri? They both challenge the norm, and are fermented in oak barrels as opposed to stainless steel like most of the wines to come out of NZ.

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hey, thanks for the pointers! I have not tried either of those SB’s, although I have been thinking of buying a bottle of Clos Henri to try out for a while now as I have heard good things about it. I will give it a shot! Thanks again for the recommendations.

  3. ae.i

    I’m a fan too. I discovered Cloudy Bay by visiting their vineyard in 2011. I remember I also liked their Gewürztraminer a lot; it’s just more expensive than the SB. But I completely agree that it’s a good wine for the summer 🙂

  4. Pingback: Wine Review: Three First Drop Shiraz from Down Under | Clicks & Corks

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