Wine-Knows is heading to New Zealand for the Southern Hemisphere’s harvest in March 2014. There is no varietal more associated with a particular country than Sauvignon Blanc with New Zealand. Kiwi-Land, like most countries, offers two distinct styles of Sauv Blanc wines: tropical fruit or grassy and herbaceous. I had the worst rendition of the latter profile last week at a very high-end dinner with group of folks who know a little something about wine and food. While some loved it, I detested everything about it.
The wine, a pricey one from a famous chateau, was a white Bordeaux (this one was nearly all Sauvignon Blanc with very little Semillon). The gentleman sitting next to me exclaimed, “This is a classical example of cat piss.” I thought he was at first referring to the color. In a way I wish that he had been, as when queried he revealed that he was describing the taste. Far in the back of my mind I recalled that I had heard this phrase used before to describe some of the herbaceous components of Sauv Blanc. (BTW…it’s not a flaw---it’s a style.) And, the gentleman was dead right.
Taking a deep breath, I tried the wine again hoping that the 10 minutes which had elapsed might alter my initial perception. I found an even stronger rendition of cat urine both in the smell and taste. I ended up setting the wine aside, but went back to it twice during the dinner. Even food couldn’t cover up the feline fiasco in my glass. Others at my table thought that it paired fairly well with the seafood. Maybe they were cat-lovers?
I always say that one of the best things about wine is it’s the only time in life that one cannot be wrong---it’s all about personal preference. So, I’ll close on a positive note with exactly that. Those who will be flying with us to New Zealand will have an opportunity to taste both the fruit example, as well as the herbaceous/grassy rendition of Sauv Blanc. I’m praying, however, that there will be no tabbies in the bunch.