ALISTAIR GIBSON: Don’t dismiss sauvignon blanc

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Pigeon with leeks and a seed and honey dressing

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Rachel Allen.

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It is actually quite difficult to remember the days before New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and it’s hard to think of a wine style that has had more of an effect on the wines we drink.

Sauvignon blanc has become almost the nation’s white wine of choice; indeed, sauvignon blanc has almost become a brand in itself.

More often than not, if you go into a restaurant or even a pub you will be offered one by the glass.

So in an ocean of sauvignon blanc it is quite easy to become a bit blasé and to dismiss it and go in search of something else, especially when much of it has now become almost made to a recipe.

But that would be to miss the point, because when it’s good there are few wine styles that offer such refreshing, easy enjoyment.

Villa Maria Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Wairau Valley, Marlborough (Majestic £13.99 or if part of a mixed six £11.99) is an absolute classic Marlborough sauvignon, from one of New Zealand’s most well-known but also best producers. The bouquet is full of trademark passion fruit and gooseberry, but there is also blackcurrant and something I can only describe as tomato leaf, followed by a lovely zesty mouth feel.

This is one of those wines that remind you of why you fell in love with sauvignon blanc in the first place.

As for something new, well Spain is currently one of the most exciting wine countries in the world.

We are beginning to see so many more interesting wines, made from grapes other than tempranillo from other regions.

Pizarras de Otero Mencia 2015, Bierzo (Majestic £8.49 or if part of a mixed six £6.99) is a lovely introduction to the mencia grape. This has crunchy black fruits and a touch of violets on the nose followed by a juicy, refreshing palate. Sometimes simple, straightforward wine is just perfect.

Cepa por Cepa Garnacha 2015, Navarra (Majestic £7.99 or if part of a mixed six £6.99) comes from Navarra, a wine region next door to Rioja – where, of course, many of our most popular wines come from.

This is another fresh, juicy red made from garnacha. The nose shows soft berry fruit and some earthiness, followed by ripe tannins and a soft, easy finish.

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