Sorrell: Cloudy Bay ages better than Sancerre

Cloudy Bay’s chief winemaker, Daniel Sorrell, believes that the iconic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc brand ages better than Sancerre from the Loire Valley.

Cloudy Bay’s chief winemaker, Daniel Sorrell, believes his Sauvignon ages more gracefully than Sancerre

Speaking during a Zoom tasting to mark the launch the 2020 vintage of Cloudy Bay, which is owned by luxury goods giant LVMH, Sorrell said:

“Our wines age better than Sancerre, which is a bold thing to say. What I love about Cloudy Bay is that you can drink it in its youth and it keeps getting better.

“Cloudy Bay ages gracefully like a Vouvray – it gains in intensity and complexity – you get a lot of nougat and honeysuckle notes – and the acid becomes broader and more approachable.

One of Cloudy Bay’s vineyards in Marlborough

“Our older vintages under cork still have vibrancy and youth. It’s a very different beast to Sancerre, but that’s the beauty of Sauvignon Blanc – you can’t grow it anywhere in the world. In my opinion there are only two or three places in the world where you can grow it exceptionally.

“We have a very different interpretation of Sauvignon Blanc to Sancerre, which is probably why Cloudy Bay was so successful 35 years ago and helped to put New Zealand on the map. It dances in the glass; it’s an exciting wine to make.

“People love Cloudy Bay for what it is, but the wine has evolved and we want to keep adding layers and levels to it. We want to capture those beautiful stone fruit aromatics and have them age gracefully.”

From the 2001 vintage Cloudy Bay has been bottled under screwcap. “Now that Cloudy Bay is under stelvin, the wines will age consistency, and you’ll be able to put them down for 20+ years, not that anyone does, which is a shame,” Sorrell said.

He revealed that he is currently experimenting with partially ageing Te Koko – Cloudy Bay’s oak aged Sauvignon Blanc – in cement, as well as barriques and foudres.

“Cement ageing is exciting for Te Koko, as it brings another blending element in, and is a way to express the terroir within the blend,” he said.

As for the challenges of the 2020 vintage brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, Sorrell admitted that it was not something he’d like to go through again, with the company having to quarantine some of its pickers from northern Italy and sterilise all of its equipment before shift handovers.

“The only saving grace this year was that Mother Nature dealt us a great hand, meaning that we could slow things down and pick when we wanted, which was a luxury.

“You get around 20 shots as a winemaker to make something truly special and I believe 2020 is one of those – it’s the best fruit I’ve seen in the five years since I’ve been here.

“The 2020 vintage has everything I look for in Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc – lashings of fresh herbs, grapefruit pith, stone fruit aromas of peach and nectarine, and beautiful balance and elegance on the palate – it just keeps giving,” Sorrell said.

During the tasting Sorrell highlighted the increasing importance of sustainability at the estate, which is working to reduce its carbon footprint and has a goal of being herbicide free by 2021.

It is also looking to increase the amount of certified organic grapes it uses in the blend. The 2020 vintage features grapes from a 7.5 hectare organic plot.

Sorrell also revealed a desire to bottle a Cloudy Bay branded single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc in order to highlight Marlborough’s sub-regional diversity.

“I’d definitely like to make a single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, and we’re looking into it. We work with a lot of unique sites with very different micro climates, and a single vineyard expression form one of our older vineyards would be an exciting thing to make,” he said.

Cloudy Bay 2020 is made from a blend of 96 parcels of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 4% of which is fermented in oak. It has an RRP of £24.

One Response to “Sorrell: Cloudy Bay ages better than Sancerre”


    That is Sorell’s opinion. Why not saying also that NZ pinot noir are better that Sancerre rouge!!!! LOL!!!!!

    The only truth is that if sauvignon was producing great wines the whole world would know it!!!!!!!

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