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Friday 22 August 2014

Brancott Estate unveils NZ trio

21st January, 2014 by Gabriel Savage

Brancott Estate is adding three new wines to its portfolio, including the New Zealand brand’s second Sauvignon Gris and an extra range called Terroir Series.

The three new additions to Brancott Estate's portfolio

The three new additions to Brancott Estate’s portfolio

Having been initially inspired by examples of Sauvignon Gris which they tasted in Chile, the Brancott team took cuttings of the variety from a plot belonging to fellow New Zealand producer Te Mata.

Brancott has now planted around 140 hectares of this variety in Marlborough and first began producing its Sauvignon Gris in small quantities for the domestic market back in 2004.

“We’ve got a bit of history with it and now are just taking it to a commercial level,” said Jamie Marfell, chief winemaker for sister brand Stoneleigh, who introduced the new wine in London today. “It’s a variety we all feel has legs going forward.”

Sauvignon Gris already features as part of the brand’s higher end Letter Series range. In addition, Marfell revealed that it had been considered for inclusion in Brancott Estate’s top end Chosen Rows project, a Sauvignon Blanc which launched last year with a £35 price tag. “At the moment it sits outside the programme but it could have a role to play in future,” he remarked.

Despite the two varieties’ similar origins and name however, he suggested: “It’s almost a shame we make comparisons with Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris. On the vine it looks almost like Gewürztraminer or Pinot Gris – it’s got smaller berries and a pinkish colour.”

Marfell also highlighted stylistic differences in the wine itself, saying: “It’s about understanding when to pick it. The strength of this variety is all based around the texture of the wine.”

As a result, he continued: “We look at it more like a Chardonnay or a Pinot Gris. We look for that richness. On the nose it has this freshness about it, but not like Sauvignon Blanc with that pungency.”

Explaining the decision to launch the new Sauvignon Gris in the UK first of all, where it will carry the same £10.49 RRP as the Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Marfell observed: “It’s an established market, people know New Zealand wines and they kind of expect innovation from us.”

While Sauvignon Blanc continues to dominate New Zealand’s wine output, especially in Marlborough, and accounts for around 68% of the country’s total production, Marfell suggested that the Pernod Ricard-owned Brancott Estate was stepping up its efforts to explore the potential for other varieties.

“Everyone is planting as much Sauvignon Blanc as possible, but being a big producer we’ve already got a lot planted so we’re looking for the next big thing after that,” he said.

In addition to the launch of its Sauvignon Gris in the core range, Brancott Estate is also introducing a Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc under its new Terroir Series.

Both wines come from the Awatere Valley sub-region of Marlborough, where the vineyards lie around three kilometres from the sea. Pointing to the cooler, windy conditions in this area, Marfell noted: “It tends to be quite low cropping,” as he highlighted the “lovely concentration” which results.

Due to arrive in the UK later this year, the Sauvignon Blanc has an RRP of £12.49, while the Pinot Noir’s RRP is £14.49.

All three of these new additions to the Brancott portfolio will launch with the 2013 vintage, which Marfell described as “stunning”. “We absolutely loved it,” he enthused. “For me it was one of the best vintages in the 24 years I’ve been a winemaker. It was just a really average year, everything lined up nicely.”

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