By James Atkinson
Sauvignon Blanc is much more than just a fruity, easy-drinking wine to suit all occasions, according to Marlborough's Giesen family, which has developed no less than eight separate expressions of the varietal.
Giesen Wines recently announced that after 20 years using a distributor, it will soon establish its own Australian sales force.
Directors Theo, Alex and Marcel Giesen were in the country last week to conduct a tasting of their full range of wines, including some of their more interesting expressions of Sauvignon Blanc, which comprises 95 per cent of the company's output.
These included the experimental Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (not for release), the Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2011 and several vintages of The August, a barrel-fermented wine the brothers believe has complexity, character and ageing potential.
There was also a Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc and the Fuder Sauvignon Blanc 2011, produced using the only 1,000 litre German oak barrel in the Southern Hemisphere.
L-R: Alex, Theo and Marcel Giesen
Marcel Giesen bemoaned the fact that that over-production of grapes in Marlborough has led some of Giesen's Marlborough counterparts to resort to making sparkling Sauvignon Blanc.
"I couldn't think of any classical regions in the world that made a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, so I thought, 'why should we be the first to go there?'" he said.
"I could think of many other ways of expressing Sauvignon, which is looking at barrel fermentations, looking at texture and that lovely interplay of acidity rather than predominantly looking at fruit within the wine."
While Marlborough's lesser quality exports have become synonymous with discounting in Australia, Theo Giesen is bullish about the future potential of the region, which he pointed out is still in its infancy, having started production less than 40 years ago.
He said the more respected winemakers are replanting their vineyards with better clones, using more suitable rootstocks and refining their approaches to vineyard density and canopy management.
"You will see a significant increase in quality over the next 10 or 15 years," Giesen said.
The tasting also included the Fuder Chardonnay 2011 and several contrasting Pinot Noirs under the Wrekin Road, The Brothers and Waihopai labels.
Giesen's Australian sales team will begin making calls and taking orders on Monday April 1.