Brancott Estate premium wine by Pernod-Ricard.
The French giant Pernod-Ricard is not only about spirits (Absolut, Chivas, Martell, Beefeater…) or Champagne (Mumm, Perrier-Jouët). It is also about – still – wines. Mostly covering the New World, Pernod-Ricard owns some big names from Australia (Jacob’s Creek), Spain (Campo Viejo), Argentina (Graffigna), and New-Zealand with the quite famous Brancott Estate. This is just to mention a few, as the list goes on and on…
Brancott Estate (formerly Montana) is the name of the first Kiwi estate where Sauvignon Blanc has been planted, back in 1975, in the now renowned region of Marlborough. It is today one of the leaders of the NZ wine market, with the flagship still being its Sauvignon Blanc.
Since then, it has been complemented by a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Gris from the same Marlborough region… and a more premium version of each of these three varietals (the Letter Series)… and varietals from other regions (the Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet-Sauvignon and the Gisborne Unoaked Chardonnay)… and finally three different sparkling wines (Sauvignon Blanc Brut, Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvée, and Sparkling Rosé). This is quite a portfolio, isn’t it?
No, it is not! I just mentioned above the wines that are available in Europe. Go to their website (www.brancottestate.com), and make sure to select New-Zealand as ‘your’ region. Now you can see the whole bloody list of wines and brand variations. I said, this is quite a portfolio, isn’t it?
No, I said, it is not enough! Brancott Estate just launched a new declination of their flagship, called Brancott Estate ‘Chosen Rows’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010. With a retail price of 35£ / 40€, it intends to tap a more premium market and therefore take the brand to another level. Limited to 3,500 bottles annually, it claims to have the ability to age gracefully in bottle for up to 10 years. It therefore seeks to respond to the main criticism of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, according to Brancott Estate’s chief winemaker Patrick Materman, which is their (lack of) ‘ageability’. He further points out: “We’re not so much trying to preserve the fruit and aromatics, but more the mouthfeel and ageability”. Anyway, French consumers should not get that excited right now, as the target markets remain, first and foremost, the UK, and then New-Zealand, Australia and the USA.
And a little bit of background to conclude… The story behind this new product started five years ago with a R&D project called the Icon Project. It had the rather noble objective to create ‘the ultimate expression of Sauvignon Blanc’. Several experts from the viticulture, vinification and marketing arenas were brought in, including the eminent Pr. Denis Dubourdieu, to conduct trials throughout the Marlborough region. It resulted in the careful selection of 14 low-yield vineyard plots (hence the name ‘Chosen Rows’) to favour a powerful expression and concentration of flavour. Also, the actual techniques were revisited, to now include manual harvesting, shoot thinning, indigenous yeast fermentation, longer lees contact, the use of large oak formats and a Champagne basket press!
For those of you who have the chance to taste it, please tell us what you think !