In London’s thriving wine bar scene of the 1980’s Sauvignon Blanc was the height of sophistication. Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, then synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc, were the quintessential white wines for Parisian bistros and restaurants the world over. Piercing flavours of nettles and gooseberries with a hint of smoke and gunflint. The best were long-lived and more complex styles were often barrel fermented and matured.
Then came the Marlborough tsunami and I was stunned and initially seduced by their pungency and unmistakeable aromatics. Fermented in stainless steel, bottled weeks later, and best drunk before the next vintage. For me the familiarity that was comforting for so many began to pall and the famous intensity felt one-dimensional and tiring. By the early noughties Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc sales in Australia far outstripped all Australian sales, all varieties, and restaurant wine lists were gathering dust. Restaurateurs and wine professionals were over it, sommeliers scoffed and gave withering looks, the reputation and identity of the variety had been hijacked!
By the end of the noughties, part nostalgia, I had a strong desire to revisit Sauvignon Blanc through the texture, volume and nuance of barrel fermentation. In 2012 an introduction to the Hill Block in Piccadilly opened the gate. At 500m elevation, this cool, low-yielding, hand-picked vineyard is a far cry from the industrial scale of broad-acre Marlborough. Expect a hint of passionfruit, a trace of sweet capsicum, a lick of struck match and a whole lot of volume.
Michael Hall Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2020 $38.00
2040 bottles produced
“A fine example of pushing the boundaries with the variety while remaining true to its purest values. From Piccadilly Valley and Forreston source blocks, fermented in oak, a tiny portion on skins and matured for nine months in barrel. Sauvignon without the tropical nose punch, a subtle skins influence only, adding spice to its spectrum of apple flavours, and minerally texture more than anything. Good body shape and more serious structure and finish than most in the genre.” Tony Love, InDaily
“Michael Hall wines all come with a bit of pizzazz, I reckon. Good producer. Lots of great (and interesting) wines. Distinct ‘fume style’ or so it seems. Sweet smoke, nougat, ripe citrus and candy banana scents, all of that very pleasant and in the mode of the style. Soft, rolling, gentle texture, great length, good intensity, suppleness, nougat and citrus flavours, bright acidity underlying. A little honey butter in mid palate is nice. It’s a generous but vibrant style. Done well.” 93/100 Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
“Light straw-yellow hue. A nose of smoked honey, citrus and sea breeze. A medium-bodied sauvignon that shows a lot of winemaker influence with its spice layers and smoky wood notes. A subtle tannic line builds great texture and length, making a very appealing wine that would complement a meal very well. Time in the bottle will also add further character.” 94/100 Stuart Knox, The Real Review