Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Marlborough, NZ)
14%, Cork, $35
Context is everything in wine. It governs what wines we like, how we like to drink them and how much we are willing to pay for them. Context is king. The single biggest issue with context is that it also gives potential for bias – bias that may cause us to look more favourably at a wine simply because we like how it was made, who made it or it or even the occasion when we first drank it. Potential bias aplenty.
The challenge when tasting then is to balance out context (essentially the subjectivity of approach) with critical objectivity. To balance out what you ‘like’ with what is ‘good’.
With this wine my context is admittedly cloudy. I have tasted nearly every vintage of the Section 94 produced, walked the vineyards, stayed in the estate guest house and had late night beers with winemaker Ivan Sutherland. I like the people, I respect the viticulture and I admire the winemaking. More to the point, I almost universally enjoy the wines.
As a result when I taste the Dog Point wines I feel like I have to be extra critical, to bury the pleasure for a moment simply to counteract any inherent bias.
I can’t escape how well constructed this Sauv is though. From what is considered to be a great Marlborough vintage, this is produced from noticeably ripe grapes (particularly for Marlborough) grown on the certified organic Dog Point vineyard, this was all hand picked (as all the grapes are for the Dog Point wines) with the juice then fermented naturally and matured for 18 months in older oak.
What sets this apart from many worked Sauvs of the genre is its lifted freshness. I opened it up and left the bottle on a table to go and eat more ham (as you do this time of year. There was probably pavlova to follow) yet I could still smell the aromatic vitality it from the other side of the room, the combination of white pepper, creamed herbs, flint and stones with a background of yeast derived richer notes wafting right out.
The further joy of this wine is that it’s recognisably Marlborough Sauv – the palate having the snappy, rigid acidity you’d expect, with just the faintest hint of passionfruit to the herbaceous fruit. Actually the palate manages to balance up fruit and winemaking very nicely, the acid driven lines matching up to the yeasty, creamy winemaking to bring both textural weight, fruit weight and intensity, topped off with firm acidity. There is a slight alcohol warmth to finish but it doesn’t quite detract.
An excellent example of a textural, Sancerre meets Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, this is really smart wine of supreme power, weight, vitality and freshness. Further, it’s only going to get better (longer and more complete) with an extra year or so in bottle. Superb.
Score: 18.5/20 94/100
Would I buy it? If I was looking for a textural white and spotted one of these in the bottle shop fridge I’d be very happy. So yes, I’d buy without hesitation.