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Kiwi sauvignon blanc is back on track

2019 Greywacke, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

£22.99, or £19.99 on a mix six deal, majestic.co.uk£17.99, laithwaites.co.uk£18.99, or £14.99 each for six or more bottles, nzhouseofwine.co.uk£19.99, reduced to £14.99, northandsouthwines.co.uk; £17.99, reduced to £15.75, nywines.co.uk

I remember, to this day, the perfume and vivacity of 1987 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc like it was yesterday. I was working in my very first job in the wine trade and this was the most sought-after bottle in the world, at the time.

Founding winemaker Kevin Judd made 25 vintages of this pioneering wine, from its inaugural vintage in 1985. Today, he makes wine under his own brand, Greywacke, and it is interesting that, three decades on, this newly released vintage is about a pound cheaper, and an awful lot classier, than that life-changing flavour I tasted back in 1987.

Of course, Marlborough was made up of only a few strips of vines back in the late-1980s, and today it is a carpet of vines from one end to the other, but Kevin has always made keen, chiselled, linear wines with apple skin and cucumber freshness, and this is what I seek in my sauvignon blancs. He never dipped his toe into the floral, bath bomb and fruit-salad-scented wines so beloved of the high street, favouring instead serious, handsome, angular creations that hark back to the great wine of the Loire Valley.

This is, thankfully, where Marlborough is finally heading after years in the tropical-fruit wilderness. If you have been to New Zealand and come back to France, then it is time to have another peek at what is happening in Aotearoa. Kevin has never wavered and this pioneer and his fellow disciples are today steering New Zealand sauvignon blanc back on track.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com).

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