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Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2016: results and analysis

Sauvignon Blanc may be a ubiquitous grape, with most countries’ winemakers trying their hand at producing it, but how good is the quality overall? Our tasting panel finds out. By Patrick Schmitt MW

The judges (l-r): Jonathan Pedley MW; Adrian Garforth MW; Dee Blackstock MW; Roberto Della Pietra; Nick Tatham MW; Patricia Stefanowicz MW; Clive Barlow MW; David Round MW; Sarah Jane Evans MW; Clement Robert MS; Anne McHale MW; Patrick Schmitt MW

OF COURSE, it’s only once you’ve achieved success that you attract widespread criticism. As a consequence, Sauvignon Blanc, the white wine darling of the moment, comes under scrutiny that can be excessive. But the fact is, Sauvignon is a remarkably versatile grape.

Not only can it make lovely crisp, youthful inexpensive whites, as well as textural barrel-aged fine wines, but also delicious sweets, and, more novel, aromatic sparklings too. Then there’s its geographic spread: it’s probably safe to say that every country and major region that makes wine has at least experimented with Sauvignon Blanc.

It’s probably even more widely planted today than Chardonnay, once the most ubiquitous grape in the world.

About the competition

In a crowded wine-competition arena, the drinks business Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters stands out for its assessment of wines purely by grape variety rather than by region.Divided only by price bracket and, for ease of judging, style too, the blind tasting format allowed wines to be assessed without prejudice about their country of origin.

The best wines were awarded medals that ranged from Bronze through to Gold, as well as Master, the ultimate accolade, given only to exceptional wines in the tasting.

The wines were judged by a cherry picked group of Masters of Wine and one Master Sommeliers on 13 January at Bumpkin in London’s South Kensington.

But being everywhere and doing everything, doesn’t alone make you great. And so, with our Global Masters, we set about determining just how good Sauvignon Blanc is today, wherever it’s planted and however it’s handled.

To begin, it’s clear that both the style and quality of Sauvignon being produced at present is hugely diverse. This meant, at the pricier end of the tasting, while the judges were excited by the increasing number of more textural styles, employing more lees and oak contact, they did observe that some examples were more successful than others, with green flavours and vanilla oak in particular proving a clash.

As for the most famous areas for varietal Sauvignon at present – the Loire and Marlborough – these are creating exceptional wines, along with some that are more ordinary. Where the scores from the judges were low, it was because the wines were dilute, lacking the aromatic impact that makes Sauvignon so memorable and popular.

This could be, it was suggested, a result of high yields, or possibly high temperatures – as well as, perhaps, the combination of both.

But what performed brilliantly? At the cheaper end of the spectrum, wines packed with those classic Sauvignon flavours of gooseberry and grass or passionfruit and peach, along with that lipsmacking acidity, which ensures one wants more. Moving up the price bands, such characters were less overt, but the wines offered more, as the bright, youthful green-edged aromatics were replaced with layers of subtler and sweeter flavours derived both from cellar practices but also the use of carefully selected fruit from lower-yielding vines.

In such instances, the top-scoring wines married such richness with Sauvignon’s typical citrus-like finish. Interestingly, the greats weren’t all from the aforementioned famous Sauvignon producing areas.

California proved its skill at a creamier, riper style of wine from the grape, with a delicious and balanced example of barrel-aged Sauvignon from Stonestreet in the Alexander Valley. Styria in Austria also shone, with a relatively expensive but nonetheless lovely and typically lime-rich example that hailed from Weingut Erich & Walter Polz.

More surprising for the judges was the quality produced from Turkey’s Cappadocia (Kavaklidere), Italy’s Alto Adige, and, in particular, gaining the top accolade of Master, a Sauvignon made by Greece’s Alpha Estate.

Australia’s Adelaide Hills and Wrattonbully wine regions also proved themselves able to craft impressive Sauvignons, packed with pink grapefruit. Additionally, Chile’s Leyda Valley really shone among the examples from this country in which Sauvignon is so widely planted. When it came to blends and barrelageing, Bordeaux confirmed its superiority, with Château Brown standing above the competition by gaining the only Master in this category with its Sauvignon-Semillon from Pessac-Léognan.

However, when it came to the pure Sauvignons aged in oak, the famous and classic mixed with the up-and-coming, as the likes of Pouilly Fumé’s Château de Tracy collecting the Golds, along with Australia’s Down to Earth, and Marlborough’s Stoneleigh, Te Pà, and Giesen.

And what about the sweets? Few deliver a drink with such intense sweetness and refreshment as Brancott Estate, which wowed the judges with its late-harvest Sauvignon.

In short, a full day spent sampling almost every style of Sauvignon from almost every corner of the world showed, conclusively, that this grape produces so much more than the archetypal grass and gooseberry scented crisp youthful white wine.

Furthermore, the wide range in quality proved that this isn’t an easy grape to get right, but when it’s good, it offers a really exciting and surprisingly complex drink.


Unoaked 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Company Wine Name Vintage Region Country Medal
Under £10
Indevin New Zealand Cowrie Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
Yealands Wine Group Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Gold
Kiwi Cuvée Kiwi Cuvée Bin 88 Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Loire France Gold
Luis Felipe Edwards Sauvignon Blanc Reserva Exquisite Collection 2016 Leyda Chile Silver
Vign. des Coteaux Romanais La Dilecta Sauvignon Touraine 2015 Loire France Silver
Namaqua Wines Namaqua Cellar Door Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Western Cape South Africa Silver
Limestone Coast Wines Artan Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Limestone Coast Australia Silver
Flagstone Winery Free Run Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Western Cape South Africa Silver
Indevin New Zealand Tesco Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Santa Carolina Winery Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Silver
Snapper Rock Wines Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Luis Felipe Edwards LFE Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Silver
MontGras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Silver
Yealands Wine Group The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Konrad Wines Hole in the Water Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Siegel Family Wines Special Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Bronze
Santa Carolina Winery Vistaña Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Central Valley Chile Bronze
Sula Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Nashik India Bronze
Gruppo Mezzacorona Castel Firmian Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Trentino Italy Bronze
Kavaklidere Saraplari Kavaklidere Life White 2015 Denizli Turkey Bronze
Santa Rita Estates Carmen Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Bronze
Loire Propriétés Le Grand Cerf 2015 Loire France Bronze
Luis Felipe Edwards Extra Special Selection Sauvignon 2016 Leyda Chile Bronze
Luis Felipe Edwards LFE Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Bronze
Indevin New Zealand Wairau Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Kavaklidere Saraplari Egeo Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Aegean Turkey Bronze
Viña Maipo Mi Pueblo Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Central Valley Chile Bronze
Loire Propriétés Châtelain Desjacques Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Loire France Bronze
Parlez-vous? ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ 2016 Loire France Bronze
Luis Felipe Edwards Winemaker’s Choice Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Central Valley Chile Bronze
Vins & Vignobles Dourthe Dourthe La Grande Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Bordeaux France Bronze
Sacred Hill Vineyards Whitecliff Winemaker’s Selection Marlborough 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
MontGras De Gras Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Bronze
Marisco Vineyards The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Excelsior Estate Excelsior Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Robertson South Africa Bronze
Lanchester Wines Nika Tiki Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Viña Undurraga Sibaris Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Leyda Chile Bronze
Santa Rita Estates Santa Rita Gran Hacienda Reserva 2016 Central Valley Chile Bronze
Marisco Vineyards Fernlands Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Zonte’s Footstep Excalibur Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Adelaide Hills Australia Bronze
Home of Origin Wine Grand Vin de Stellebosch 2015 Stellenbosch South Africa Bronze
Casa Del Toqui Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Central Valley Chile Bronze
Les Grands Chais de France Bay Eye Deer Sauvignon Blanc 2015 France France Bronze
Alto de Casablanca Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Casablanca Chile Bronze
MontGras Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Bronze
Casas del Toqui Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Leyda Chile Bronze
Luis Felipe Edwards LFE Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Bronze
£10-£15
Te Pa Wines Pa Road Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
Aresti Chile Wine Trisquel Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Silver
Marisco Vineyards Leefield Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Babich Wines Rongopai Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Craggy Range Wild Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Viña Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Colchagua Valley Chile Silver
Kavaklidere Saraplari Côtes d’Avanos Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Cappadocia Turkey Silver
Marisco Vineyards The King’s Favour Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Lawson’s Dry Hills Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Chain of Ponds Winery Chain of Ponds Black Thursday 2016 Adelaide Hills Australia Silver
Trinchero Family Estates SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc 2015 California USA Silver
Trinchero Family Estates Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2015 California USA Silver
Viña Cono Sur 20 Barrels Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Casablanca Chile Silver
Babich Wines Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Viña Undurraga T.H. Sauvignon Blanc Leyda 2015 Leyda Chile Silver
£10-£15
K. Martini & Sohn Alto Adige Sauvignon DOC Palladium 2015 Alto Adige Italy Silver
Clark Estate Clark Estate 2015 Marlborough 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Mud House Single Vineyard The Woolshed Marlborough 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Hayward Bros 3 Stones Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Doña Paula Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Mendoza Argentina Silver
De Bortoli Wines Deen Vat 2 Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Riverina Australia Bronze
Viña Maipo Vitral Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Central Valley Chile Bronze
Maison Foucher ‘Petit le Mont’ Sauvignon IGP Val de Loire 2015 Loire France Bronze
Barkan Wine Cellars Special Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Upper Galilee Israel Bronze
Cortes de Cima Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Alentejo Portugal Bronze
Ken Forrester Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2015 Western Cape South Africa Bronze
Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2015 Columbia Valley USA Bronze
MontGras Amaral Single Vineyard, Block 7 2015 Leyda Chile Bronze
Vinedos Terranoble Sauvignon Blanc Reserva Terroir 2016 Casablanca Chile Bronze
Viña Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Leyda Chile Bronze
Ribbonwood Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Sidewood Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Adelaide Hills Australia Bronze
Bosman Family Vineyards Upper Hemel en Aarde Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Upper Hemel en Aarde South Africa Bronze
Viña Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Colchagua Valley Chile Bronze
Viña Casa Silva Reserva Cuvée Colchagua Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Rapel Valley Chile Bronze
Sacred Hill Vineyards Sacred Hill Orange Label Marlborough 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Ch. Ste. Michelle Wine Ests. Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Columbia Valley USA Bronze
Aresti Chile Wine Trisquel Series Hualañé Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Curió Valley Chile Bronze
Luis Felipe Edwards Marea Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Leyda Chile Bronze
Yealands Wine Group Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc, Avery Vineyard 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
MontGras Amaral Single Vineyard Block 34 2015 Leyda Chile Bronze
Sacred Hill Vineyards Wild South Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Yealands Wine Group Yealands Estate L5 Single Block 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Trinchero Family Estates Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Napa Valley USA Bronze
Viña Undurraga T.H. Sauvignon Blanc Lo Abarca 2015 Lo Abarca Chile Bronze
Ackerman Touraine Sauvignon Rémy Pannier 2015 Loire France Bronze
te Pa Wines te Pa Family Vineyards Marlborough Sauvignon 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Mission Estate Winery Mission Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
£15-£20
Alpha Estate Alpha Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015 P.G.I Florina Greece Master
Viña Maipo Gran Devoción Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Casablanca Chile Silver
te Pa Wines te Pa Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Viña Casablanca Viña Casablanca Nimbus Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Casablanca Chile Silver
Nobilo Wines Nobilo Icon Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Tohu Winery Tohu Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Babich Wines Headwaters Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Kim Crawford Wines Small Parcels Spitfire Marlborough 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Maison Foucher Sancerre Blanc ‘Les Monts Damnés’ 2013 Loire France Bronze
Weingut Erich & Walter Polz Sauvignon Blanc Steirische Klassik 2013 Styria Austria Bronze
Ohau Wines Woven Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Ohau New Zealand Bronze
£20-£30
Château de Tracy Château de Tracy 2015 Loire France Gold
Weingut Erich & Walter Polz Therese Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Styria Austria Gold
Ten Miles East Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Adelaide Hills Australia Gold
Ten Miles East Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Adelaide Hills Australia Silver
Cantina Bolzano Alto Adige Sauvignon DOC Riserva 2014 Alto Adige Italy Silver
Trinchero Family Estates Mary’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Napa Valley USA Silver
Weingut Kornell Oberberg Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Alto Adige Italy Silver
Catina Andriano Andrius Alto Adige Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Alto Adige Italy Silver

Oaked 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Company Wine Name Vintage Region Country Medal
Under £10
Alvisa Alcohol Group Thoro Loko 2015 La Mancha Spain Bronze
Nitida Nitida Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Durbanville South Africa Bronze
£10-£15
Stoneleigh Stoneleigh Wild Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
Frescobaldi Attems Sauvignon 2015 Gorizia Italy Silver
Gladstone Vineyard Gladstone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Gladstone New Zealand Silver
Alto de Casablanca Ritual Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Casablanca Chile Silver
Domain Road Vineyard Domain Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Central Otago New Zealand Silver
Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard, Marlborough 2016 Martinborough New Zealand Silver
De Bortoli Wines Villages Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Yarra Valley Australia Bronze
Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard, Marlborough 2015 Martinborough New Zealand Bronze
Pernod Ricard Winemakers Brancott Estate Terroir Series Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Matahiwi Vineyard Holly by Matahiwi Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Babich Wines Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Yealands Wine Group Yealands Estate Winemakers Reserve 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Valdivieso Vineyards Single Vineyard Wild Ferment 2014 Leyda Chile Bronze
Pernod Ricard Winemakers Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
De Grendel Wines De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Western Cape South Africa Bronze
£15-£20
Terre à Terre Down to Earth Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Wrattonbully Australia Gold
te Pa Wines “Oke” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
Andrew Peller Trius Showcase Clean Slate Wild Ferment 2014 Niagara Peninsula Canada Silver
Cantina Kurtatsch Alto Adige Sauvignon Kofl DOC 2015 Alto Adige Italy Silver
Giesen Wines The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Château Reyon Château Doisy-Daëne 2015 Bordeaux France Silver
Mission Estate Winery Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
Viña Arboleda Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Aconcagua Costa Chile Silver
Elephant Hill Estate Elephant Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Hawkes Bay New Zealand Silver
Pernod Ricard Winemakers Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
Mission Estate Winery Reserve Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Hawkes Bay New Zealand Bronze
Cantina Kurtatsch Alto Adige Sauvignon Kofl DOC 2013 Alto Adige Italy Bronze
£20-£30
Giesen Wines The Fuder Matthews Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
Giesen Wines The August 1888 Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
Giesen Wines The Fuder Dillons Point Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
Alpha Estate Alpha Sauvignon Blanc Fumé 2015 P.G.I Florina Greece Silver
Burch Family Wines Howard Park Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Margaret River New Zealand Silver
Jackson Family Wines Galerie Equitem Knights Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Knights Valley USA Silver
Mulderbosch Vineyards Mulderbosch 1000 Miles Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Western Cape South Africa Silver
Chamlija Wines Quartz Fumé 2015 Strandja Massif Turkey Silver
Elena Walch Sauvignon “Vigna Castel Ringberg” Alto Adige DOC 2015 Alto Adige Italy Silver
Ohau Wines Ohau Gravels Select Vines Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Ohau New Zealand Silver
Australian Vintage Nepenthe Petraea Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Adelaide Hills Austalia Bronze
£30-£50
Jackson Family Wines Stonestreet Alexander Mountain Estate Aurora Point Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Alexander Valley USA Gold
Over £50
Château de Tracy Haute Densité 2013 Loire France Gold
Château de Tracy 101 Rangs 2013 Loire France Gold

Unoaked blend (min 50% Sauvignon Blanc)

Company Wine Name Vintage Region Country Medal
Under £10
Rietvallei Wine Estate Rietvallei Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Robertson South Africa Silver
Berton Vineyards Berton Vineyards Metal Label 2016 Padthaway Australia Bronze
La Motte Wine Estate La Motte Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Western Cape South Africa Bronze
£10-£15
De Bortoli Wines Windy Peak Semillion Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Yarra Valley Australia Bronze
Hermanuspietersfontein Wines Nr.7 Kaalvoet Meisie 2015 Sondagskloof South Africa Bronze
£15-£20
Jackson Family Wines Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve 2014 California USA Silver
Alpha Estate Alpha Axia Assyrtiko Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Macedonia Greece Bronze
La Motte Wine Estate Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Cape South Coast South Africa Bronze

Oaked blend (min 50% Sauvignon Blanc)

Company Wine Name Vintage Region Country Medal
£10-£15
Flagstone Winery Treaty Tree Sauvignon Blanc Sémillion Reserve 2015 Western Cape South Africa Silver
£15-£20
Burch Family Wines Howard Park Miamup Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Margaret River New Zealand Silver
Jackson Family Wines Matanzas Creek Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Sonoma County USA Bronze
Château Hostens-Picant Cuvée des Demoiselles 2015 Bordeaux France Bronze
£20-£30
Château Brown Château Brown 2015 Bordeaux France Master
Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2015 Cape Penninsula South Africa Silver

Sweet 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Company Wine Name Vintage Region Country Medal
£10-£15
Marisco Vineyards The Ned Noble Sauvignon Blanc (180 g/l) 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Silver
£15-£20
Marisco Vineyards The King’s A Sticky End Noble (168 g/l) 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze
£20-£30
Brancott Estate Letter Series ‘B’ Late Harvest (221 g/l) 2014 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
Giesen Wines The Brothers Late Harvet Sauvignon Blanc (223 g/l) 2013 Marlborough New Zealand Silver

Rosé blend (min 50% Sauvignon Blanc)

Company Wine Name Vintage Region Country Medal
Under £10
Antipodean Sommelier Snapper Rock Sauvignon Rose 2016 Marlborough New Zealand Bronze

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