Thu 16 Jan 2014

2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: What A Difference A Year Makes


Rebecca Gibb

Rebecca Gibb

Rebecca Gibb, an English wine writer living in New Zealand, made a trip to Marlborough to taste the 2013 wines. Here she reports back on her assessment of the vintage and shares her notes on some of her favourite wines.

View The Society’s offer of 2013 Marlborough sauvignon blanc

The sun shone long and bright across New Zealand’s sauvignon capital in the months leading up to the 2013 harvest.

It was a long, sunny and dry growing season in Marlborough and across New Zealand, after two fairly unremarkable summers.

Greywacke winemaker Kevin Judd summarises the season: ‘Overall, a delightful summer with heat summation marginally above the long-term average and lots of beautiful sunny days, a stark contrast to the previous season, the coolest for 15 years, posting the lowest February sunshine hours since records began 84 years prior.’

Indeed, the 2012 sauvignons reflected the cool conditions of that vintage: growers that left too much fruit on the vines struggled to get their fruit ripe. Many of the entry-level to mid-range sauvignons were eye-wateringly high in acid, leaving you reaching for the Rennies or calling the dentist.


What a difference a year makes
The spectacular summer has given the 2013 wines a much riper fruit profile, a little more body and the acids are mouthwatering rather than eyewatering. They are beautifully balanced with moderate alcohol levels, in general. There’s also a clear flavour profile in the 2013 wines: gooseberry and elderflower flavours coupled with lemony acidity are hallmarks of the vintage.

My tasting notes:

2013 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc (sample) (£15.50 per bottle)
A restrained and serious Kiwi sauvignon. Finely balanced and pure. Forget passionfruit and sweaty armpits, this pulls back on the exuberance, offering citrus and flinty characters. It’s relatively full-bodied with good weight on the mid palate, coupled with textural layers. 18/20

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc2013 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc (£12.95 per bottle)
I’m hard to impress but this could be the best sauvignon blanc I’ve tasted in New Zealand since landing here four years ago. While James Healey, the owner/winemaker at Dog Point, really pushes the boundaries with his Section 94 Sauvignon making it a ‘love it or hate it’ wine, this sauvignon provides complex sulfide-derived struck match/flint character in balance with gooseberry, elderflower and cut grass. It is a weighty sauvignon with a waxy texture and lovely line on the finish. It’s an interesting and harmonious wine. This is next level stuff and shows sauvignon blanc could hold our interest for a lot longer yet. 19/20

2013 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (£19 per bottle)
A bright, zingy sauvignon blanc. This is not an overly exuberant Kiwi sauvignon but does offer classic varietal flavors from gooseberry and elderflower to green apple and lemon. Plenty of concentration here and crisp acidity leaves you salivating for another slurp. 18/20

Read Rebecca’s article, ‘New Zealand sauvignon blanc: the next generation’, in Wine World & News

View The Society’s offer of 2013 Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

Rebecca Gibb is an English wine writer and MW student living in New Zealand. She was the Louis Roederer Emerging Wine Writer of the Year 2010, is editor of and has her own website at

Categories : New Zealand


  1. JohnE says:

    Read your favourite reds piece. have you tasted Pisa Range Black Poplar Block 2010? One of my favourite new world reds.

  2. Rebeca Gibb says:

    Dear John,

    I haven’t tasted the 2010 recently but I did taste the 2012 Poplar Block at the Central Otago spring release tasting back in October last year. The 2012 vintage in Central Otago could rival the superb 2010 vintage.

    All my tasting notes are on my website but I’ve copied the 2012 Poplar Block here for you. It’s one to watch…
    “A tad meaty/ slightly reductive at this stage and not giving up much on the nose. On the palate, it has depth and focus. Quite a mysterious little number, there’s clearly plenty of fruit lurking in the glass but it’s a tightly-coiled spring. Very pure and silken texture and the fine, mouthcoating tannins have an almost chalky grain to them. A little warm on the finish but this clearly shows low yields with good concentration and long length. Like to see this again in a year’s time to see how it develops.” 17.5/20

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