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Marlborough Sauvignon in ‘mid-life crisis’

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is going through a “mid-life crisis”, US wine writer Matt Kramer has said.

The first ever International Sauvignon Blanc celebration takes place in Marlborough, New Zealand from February 1-3 (Photo: Flickr)
The first ever International Sauvignon Blanc celebration is taking place in Marlborough, New Zealand until 3 February (Photo: Flickr)

Addressing attendees of the first ever international Sauvignon Blanc Celebration in Marlborough, Kramer said this morning that the New Zealand region was facing a transitional stage, charting a shift from an initial 40 year-period based on “luck” to a new stage requiring “talent”.

“There’s some sense of a mid-life crisis here in Marlborough… a sense that somehow you’ve missed something,” he began.

Then he said that he would offer a “counselling session” before telling Marlborough producers to “get over it – you are one of the world’s most successful wine regions, you have created a wine style that is recognised everywhere, and something that no-one else has, so what the hell do you want? Mermaids?”

Continuing he said, “You can claim success, claim uniqueness, claim profitability… but you are going through a mid-life crisis because you are in phase 1 and you are about to enter phase 2.”

The first stage he described as LBT or Luck Beats Talent, while the second he termed TBL: Talent Beats Luck.

“The first 40 years of the meteoric success of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has been LBT: Luck Beats Talent, because back in 1980 you didn’t know what you were doing… how could you have know that this incredible success story would happen.”

“Now you’re [almost] 45 years old, the luck has ran out pal, and now you’re going into phase 2, you lived long enough, and reached a point in your lives where you know the second truth, phase 2, TBL, Talent Beats Luck.”

Or rather, Kramer said that Marlborough was now “applying talent to luck”.

To do this he observed that the region was “going from the general to the particular”, and “creating site specific wines that identify a particular flavour.”

He also said there was a need to “lower yields”, and to “start looking at the land through the lens of the soil, rather than the climate”.

Concluding he said, “You’ve had your luck, you’ve got your talent… the rest is continued success, enjoy it.”

The first Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted in Marlborough in 1973 at Montana, now called Brancott Estate.

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