The Appellation Marlborough Wine Annual Collection was launched earlier this month to highlight the calibre of Sauvignon Blanc being produced across the Marlborough region. Appellation Marlborough Wine (AMW) Chair Ivan Sutherland says “The quality and distinctive flavour on offer when you choose 100% Marlborough is unparalleled. Each year our annual collection will be representative of the season past, whilst showcasing the talented producers in our region and our distinctive terroir.”
After a blind selection tasting by impartial industry experts Emma Jenkins MW, Liz Wheadon, and Cameron Douglas MS on 14th September 2022, the inaugural collection can now be revealed:
APPELLATION MARLBOROUGH WINE ANNUAL COLLECTION 2022
Astrolabe Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Awatere Valley)
Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Multi sub-regional)
Blank Canvas Holdaway Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Dillons Point)
Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Awatere Valley)
Framingham Nobody’s Hero Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Wairau Valley)
Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Waihopai & Wairau Valleys)
Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Multi sub-regional)
Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Wairau Valley)
Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Multi sub-regional)
Blank Canvas ‘Abstract’ Three Rows Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (Dillons Point)
Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2020 (Southern & Wairau Valleys)
Nautilus Estate: The Paper Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (Renwick)
The Appellation Marlborough Wine Annual Collection 2022 is a selection of 12 current release Sauvignon Blancs, incorporating nine classic and three alternative (aged, oak influenced, and/or wild ferment) styles. The collection will be determined yearly by an independent panel of three judges following a comprehensive blind tasting of submitted member wines.
This year’s inaugural judges provided expertise that traverses the wine industry from wine media, off-premise and on-premise. “We were ecstatic to draw on such experienced judges and depth of industry knowledge to choose this first Annual Collection,” says Amanda McRae, AMW coordinator. The judges evaluated the 60 Sauvignon Blancs individually before a robust discussion on findings and, by day’s end, an unanimous final selection.
The challenging conditions of the 2022 vintage, with Marlborough and New Zealand as a whole witnessing untimely weather events, seasonal labour shortages and an ongoing pandemic, underscore the need to be selective when choosing between wines. “Appellation Marlborough Wine was established to safeguard our region, not the least during these more strenuous times. Our members are committed to crafting the best possible wine they can, harnessing the vitality of our region and respecting the season,” says Ivan. “The breadth and quality of wines submitted to our Annual Collection tasting reiterate AMW’s unwavering objective to safeguard Marlborough and respect our unique turangawaewae.”*
“Whilst I’m probably too much of a purist,” says Liz. “Vintage variation is so important and needs to be part of the narrative to a greater extent from Marlborough. Some consistency is key year to year; for me it’s celebrating the differences and the opportunity to talk about a vintage.”
“I enjoyed the number of wines that had not tried too hard,” says Liz. “They knew what they had in terms of the quality of the grapes and made beautifully balanced wines.”
Emma says she was curious to get a good look at the 2022 vintage, being one that challenged most regions throughout New Zealand. “It was an impressive looking collection of wines, making it hard to choose the final 12.” Cameron agreed saying that there were 18 wine that could easily have made it to the final selection.
The judges’ final selection showcases Marlborough’s hallmark purity of fruit, freshness, and vivid, juicy acidity says Emma. “It also covers the broad range of styles now typical across the region.”
“There are some very clever, thoughtful winemakers in Marlborough,” says the master of wine. “And this was a year that they rose to the challenges of the season to deliver wines of quality and character. We were impressed by the number of wines with texture and elegance, and think wine-lovers will find much to enjoy.”
Throughout the blind tasting, conversations around Marlborough sub-regions, regional subsets, and wine styles began. It came as no surprise that with such a large numbers of Sauvignon Blancs side by side that the judges were drawing connections and conclusions. “Wines that were a bit edgy grabbed my attention,” says Cameron.
“I am really pleased AMW is continuing to refine and improve the initiative’s philosophy and principles via their own internal quality control tastings and with this independently-selected tasting,” says Emma. “Now more than ever, it is really important to put a stake in the ground emphasising the values and aspirations of Marlborough as a region. It’s easy to forget just how youthful Marlborough is as a region, only just approaching its 50th anniversary of vines in the ground, and it is very heartening indeed to see AMW members’ commitment to integrity and quality, for they highlight the most important path forward to its future.”
*Turangawaewae is the Maori word for ‘a place to stand’.