Sauvignon for spring

Lifestyle

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2020 (from £14.95, thewinesociety.com; bbr.com) There is no more spring-like wine than sauvignon blanc, which at its best seems to mimic all the fragrant coming-back-to-life of the season with wines that are full of green energy, bursting with verdant scents and flavours. No country has done more to popularise the grape variety than New Zealand, of course, and specifically the Marlborough region on the northern tip of the South Island, which has been transformed in quite staggering fashion in the past few decades. The first sauvignon vines didn’t arrive in Marlborough until the 1970s. At current count there are 22,369ha, which amounts to around 56% of all New Zealand’s grape vines (just for comparison, even after the recent boom years, the total vineyard in the UK is around 3,500ha). If you’ve grown a little weary of what has become a supermarket staple, the latest immaculate vintage from Dog Point is a reminder of how good it can be: just glorious luminous purity of limey and white grapefruit citrus, a touch of gooseberry and subtle blossomy elderflower notes.

Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Cape Point, South Africa 2020 (from £16.95, thewhiskyexchange.com; redsquirrelwine.com) For all that some Marlborough sauvignon can be a little formulaic, the region is lucky to have its share of fastidious larger producers operating around the £10 mark with consistently good expressions of its trademark vivacious style: Villa Maria, Brancott Estate and Yealands, whether in their own bottlings or working as own-label suppliers, rarely hit a false note. For New World sauvignon under that mark, Chile has its moments (the Irresistible Sauvignon at the Co-op and Zarper at Morrisons, for instance), as does South Africa, with the likes of Stonehaven (The Co-op again) and Porcupine Ridge (Waitrose, and for the richer, sauvignon-semillon blend, Majestic). Spend a little more, however, and you’re letting in a whole other level of spring cleansing brightness, with joyous wines such as the pristine example of sauvignon from a winery out on its own on the Cape Point peninsula, with its lipsmacking palate of stone-fruit, orangey citirus, grassy notes and ocean-breezy freshness.

André Dezat Domaine Thibault Pouilly-Fumé, France 2019 (from £18.95, caviste.co.uk; bottleapostle.com) The original model for dry white wines made from 100% sauvignon blanc is the cluster of appellations in the Central Loire Valley in France. There’s good value to be had here in the geographically expansive Touraine appellation, with lovely racy, fresh gooseberry-tangy versions in M&S’s Classics and Waitrose’s Blueprint own-labels. Both are £8 a pop give or take a penny, and both are the sort of thing that makes me want to take advantage of a classic regional wine-and-food match from the Loire: rustling up a leafy green salad with a generous wodge of sharp-but-creamy, young goat’s cheese. That dish would go just as well with some of the smarter wines made by star producers in the grander addresses, such as the Dezat family, who have vineyards in sites in both the Loire’s top sauvignon appellations of Sancerre and – for the gracefully rippling, eddying elderflower and gooseberry loveliness of Domaine Thibault – Pouilly-Fumé.