Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Sauvignon Blanc Dinner with Brancott Estate at Soho House

Sauvignon Blanc makes up 70% of all the wines produced in New Zealand. Brancott Estate was the first to plant Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes in Marlborough, back in 1975, and they seek to keep breaking ground with their new Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand sauvignon blancs are typically fruit forward and drank within the first 2 years. Their prices range no more than $30-35, in comparison to French sauvignon blancs which can go for $120-150. Brancott Estate and a few other pioneering wineries are now trying to make sauvignon blancs that are more about the structure and complexity, and can be aged, which is atypical for New Zealand.

I got to taste some of these wines and compared them to the French ones during a private dinner held at Soho House. Great food, great wine, and a beautiful view of Los Angeles.

2010 is the first vintage of Chosen Rows to be released to the world (it will be released this year), and as such, we compared them to all 2010 vintages of two other New Zealand and two French wines.
Brancott Estate Chosen Rows Pour
Photo courtesy of Brancott Estate

Here are the wines we tasted:
1. 2010 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc. The winemaker at Dog Point left Cloudy Bay (the second wine we tasted) to start Dog Point. This sauvignon blanc is barrel aged which lent is a bit of savoriness. It had the aroma of grapefruit and lime.
2. 2010 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is softer and rounder than Dog Point. It actually has the least acidity of the 5 wines we tried, with a nice minerality.
3. 2010 Brancott Chosen Rows. On the nose there's grapefruit and stone fruit. This wine has the highest acidity out of the five. Acidity makes for a good aperitif as it tells the brain to make saliva. Brancott Estate wanted to deliver a wine with "a bit of a tinge". This wine is still tight but it has a lovely length. It will age and evolve.
4. 2010 Domaines Barons de (Lafite) Rothschild. This is a blend of 90% sauvignon blanc and the rest sauvignon gris and semillon. The most expensive wine we tried, this wine is too oaky at the moment but would be great in 3-5 years. The nose is muted but there's a sweet spiciness from the barrel fermentation.
5. 2010 Domaine Didier Dagueneau "Silex" Pouilly-Fumé. Made by one of the mavericks of Loire Valley, this is one of the great wines out of Pouilly-Fume. The style that Brancott Estate and other New Zealand wineries are going for are more along the lines of Silex - more of a Loire style than Bordeaux. There's more minerality, crisp and balanced.

We had a full dinner with the wine tasting, and it was pretty unusual to have a complete meal paired with just white wines, but Soho House did a great job. For some, it's easy. The shrimp ceviche, lime, chili, cilantro, and crispy plantains would go with whites (this actually makes the Cloudy Bay tastes sweeter, but it was also great with the Silex)
But meatballs? Surprisingly so. The meatballs with San Marzano tomato sauce and pecorino was great with the Lafite but also makes the Brancott spicier.

I was overall impressed with the food at Soho House, including their Branzino baked with peppers, cherry tomato, basil and garlic.

You may know that I'm always wary of chicken breasts because they can be so dry, but I enjoyed the Mary's organic chicken breast, wild mushrooms, tarragon (it paired well with both Cloudy Bay and Brancott)

I actually tried Brancott's pinot noir with the dessert. Their pinot is light and fruit forward.
Dessert: a light vanilla cheesecake with raspberry coulis


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