Given the recognisable — some might say obvious — character of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, trying to establish a hierarchy of quality is more difficult than it can be with other wine styles. Once a wine has passed the threshold test of “yes, it taste like what it is,” nuances of balance and emphasis arguably play a disproportionately large role in sorting the best from the rest. As an aside, they’re also terribly difficult wines to write about, not least because I can’t think of any wine style that discourages analytical tasting more vigorously than this.
Loaded with that baggage, I taste the Mud House Sauvignon Blanc tonight, and note initially that it stresses the capsicum and cut grass (methoxypyrazines) aspects more than some. The aroma profile is stridently, though not forbiddingly, tilted towards green notes, backed up by typically passionfruit-laden fruit and a hint of citrus peel too. Absolutely of its style, if more lively and aggressive than some.
The palate is predictably abundant of acid and sharp of flavour; these are, after all, the characters that make this style so successful. Again, it treads a fine line between zingy and flat-out harsh, falling back onto the right side in the end, and mercifully avoiding the sort of crass accessibility that inevitably involves noticeable residual sugar. Indeed, this is a well-judged wine, unafraid to indulge the more controversial aspects of this varietal without becoming a caricature of itself. Big entry, brisk mid-palate, a smidgeon of length, plenty of lively flavour and structure. There’s no complexity to speak of, but nor is there any pretension.
It certainly won’t convert anyone to the style, but lovers of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc needn’t hesitate.