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Kiwi praises “more authentic” Loire Sauvignon

Kiwi wine consultant Sam Harrop MW has praised Loire Sauvignon Blanc as “more authentic” than many of the examples from his native New Zealand.

Speaking at a UK event to unveil this year’s Sauvignon Blanc de Loire Ambassador Wines, Harrop, who has spent the last four years consulting for InterLoire, praised the overall standard coming from the region today.

Despite initial concerns about the quality of wines produced from the Loire’s challenging 2011 vintage, Harrop insisted: “some of the wines selected were the strongest we’ve ever seen. It just goes to show that the Loire isn’t as inconsistent as many in the UK like to make out.”

Emphasising the commercial importance of this reliability for a grape variety which now accounts for 8% of UK volume wine sales, Harrop observed: “That gives retailers and sommeliers the confidence to go in with a long term vision. We should be selling more Loire Sauvignon Blanc in this country; it’s just as good, if not better than its New Zealand contemporaries.”

Supporting his claim that the Loire’s output “is more authentic than a lot of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc”, Harrop described the Loire as offering “more acidity and less intensity; it’s not too commodity-like. There are so many different components and it’s diverse – even in just Touraine you have sandy soil, clay, flint and clay mix, and calcaire.”

As for price, Harrop also drew favourable comparisons with New Zealand’s offer. “These wines are actually exceptional value compared to entry level New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc,” he maintained.

Tracking changes in the Loire’s approach since he began working with the region four years ago, Harrop remarked that while “the majority of producers haven’t changed their approach,” he had found that “the real impact of this project has been to make more of the lesser, undiscovered producers think about what they’re doing.”

In particular he pointed to the step up in quality from the Loire’s negociants. “It’s such a fragmented region,” Harrop observed, “We need the negoces more than ever. They’re the trailblazers.”

However, Harrop admitted that work remain to be done on raising the region’s UK profile. “Unfortunately for the Loire there is a perception that the wines haven’t moved on as much as they have,” he noted. “There’s real evidence today that the Loire is making some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.”

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