I still don’t have any wineglasses, they are a luxury that will have to wait until I get a job. However I did indulge in one little luxury this week: a bottle of Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc that was on special at the local supermarket. I also have a little blue and white china teacup that has proved the next best thing in terms of drinking vessels – it’s the perfect size and with the curved bottom and sides, not a bad shape either. I’d definitely go for china over plastic, a chipped coffee mug, or a glass tumbler, which are my other choices.
The Stoneleigh really is rather good, but it got me thinking about all of the wines I can’t have now I’m here. I’m sure they can be found somewhere but only for a price, and of course a lot of the wines have export labels I won’t recognise and so forth. Plus I have a whole new world of wine to discover and enjoy.
Here is a list of some of my favourite Marlborough sauvignons, listed roughly from most expensive to least. In most cases I have tasted multiple vintages of these wines, and they are consistently good. This is just my personal taste though, basically everything in the list is in a similar style so if you like one you will probably like the others.
- Cloudy Bay. Everyone, everywhere knows about Cloudy Bay, so there is no need to elaborate. Costs a fortune here, so I won’t be tasting it again for some time. However, I’m not sure I’m inclined to ever since Cloudy Bay (in turn owned by Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) bought up Cellier Le Brun, producer of the best sparkling wine in New Zealand, ripped up the vines and replanted with sauvignon. $2.3 million, and a fabulous wine we will never taste again. Was it worth it?
- Astrolabe. Made by Simon Waghorn, Louise and Claire‘s uncle. Multiple award-winning, consistently good (in fact it seems to be getting better every year) and sometimes you can get it on special for $18.
- Whitehaven and White’s Bay. More Simon Waghorn wines, minus the extra $$ you pay for the poncy Astrolabe name.
- Dashwood and Maven, both in the $15ish range, are quite drinkable, with more complexity than those later in this list. Maven also has beautiful labels, if you go for that sort of thing (and I do).
- Stoneleigh. Delicately fruity and fine straight from the fridge (don’t get me started on the “temperature white wine should be drunk at” debate).
- St Clair. Under NO circumstances should you ever drink the Vicar’s Choice wine. This is their budget label with a fancy name, and it tastes like battery acid. Their regular sauv is good though, and while I haven’t tried their specialty labels I imagine they would also be a good bet.
- Villa Maria. Also fine, and has the advantage of being very widely available. UK readers take note.
- Montana. I’m not the greatest Montana fan in the world, it’s just a little too mass-produced for my tastes (it always tastes the same!!). There’s nothing particularly offensive about it, it’s just the McDonalds of Marlborough sauvignons. If you are going to a picnic, the beach, etc, anywhere you will drink wine out of a plastic cup, take this. It tastes ok and plastic would ruin anything further up the list.
Right, now that I have that little bit of wine snobbery out of the way, some reflections: Brits just don’t seem to care about what they eat and drink the way we do in New Zealand. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. For many people here wine still comes in two varieties – red, or white. We are true food snobs when I think about it. Which is why the cafe Flat White I mentioned the other day does so well – it serves the best coffee in London so New Zealanders come from all over to drink it.
I went to a cooking demonstration by Rose Elliot today and watched as she used a grater she’d had since before she was married. She didn’t have any fancy chef’s knives or expensive pots and pans, in fact her demonstration had a real “home cooking” vibe about it.
Food here is all about simplicity and ease of preparation. Jamie Oliver built a career on it. And there’s definitely something to learn from that.