Flavour culture comes to Sauvignon Blanc
Monday 26 September
Tony Bish, winemaker and silver fox from Sacred Hill is in town and agrees to do his 60 seconds on Unfiltered. So, who’s going to win the Rugby World Cup and who would he go gay for?
Flavour culture has a nice ring to it. It sounds like the title of a book. Perhaps I should put pen to paper. In fact, it’s a term Sacred Hill’s winemaker, Tony Bish, has coined for their new Sauvignon Blanc-making method.
Instead of “bucket chemistry”, as Bish calls it, adding one tank here and one tank there, the producer has introduced a new technique for blending in a bid to make a Sauvignon Blanc that isn’t another me-too.
Bish says, “This year, we made a scorecard for every wine with things like thiols, palate weight, palate length, texture, intensity and scored each wine one to five on each attribute.” This was no small feat with 75 tanks of Sauvignon Blanc to choose from for a 10,000 case batch.
They then created a computer-generated spidergram using those numbers and blended according to the blend’s profile.
“So, if it was missing some passionfruit, we would then look at the spidergrams and know which parcel we should use for the blend.”
And the process can be used to improve future vineyard practices too. “From the spidergram we identified what was in the vineyard. If it was excessively herbaceous, we then asked did we leaf pluck enough? Could we make it less green next year?” He adds, “We are farming flavour.”
This year the blending was based on sensory analysis to create the spidergrams but next year Bish reports they will be using laboratories to undertake chemical analysis for aromatic components and thiols to map each wine more carefully.
The new 2011 release, retailing at NZ$19.95, does show a nice level of restraint. Yes, there’s the passionfruit and gooseberry and it all seems well integrated, and it’s good to see 12.5% alcohol on the label. Perhaps there’s something in this flavour culture.