Page 0052

50 � squaremeal.co.uk

A VERY

Brancott Estate was the first winery to plant Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough

and now it's leading the way with an exciting alternative: Sauvignon Gris

S

ometimes you have to ignore what

everyone around you is saying

and just follow your heart. �at's

exactly what Frank Yukich did

in 1975, when he planted the very first

Sauvignon Blanc vines in Marlborough at

Brancott Vineyard. "In the early 1970s, the

conventional wisdom in the New Zealand

wine industry was that wine grapes would

not ripen in the South

Island," explains

Philip Gregan, CEO

of New Zealand

Winegrowers.

�ankfully the

pioneering team at

Brancott Estate (then

Montana) didn't hold with conventional

wisdom and the Sauvignon Blanc vines

thrived, producing the first-ever bottle

of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in 1979.

�is decision proved to be one of the

most "momentous ever taken", according

to Gregan, as other growers quickly

followed suit and the phenomenon that is

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was born.

�is remarkable history is central to

AGRISABLE

WINE

the winemaking philosophy at Brancott

Estate, where the quest for innovation and

love of ingenuity remains as strong as ever.

Today, chief winemaker Patrick Materman

continues the work that the original team

started. Since joining the winery in 1990

as a cellar hand, Materman has worked his

way up to chief winemaker, along the way

being named Winestate Magazine's New

Zealand Winemaker of the Year in 2001.

For Materman, what happens in the

vineyards is as important as his work in

the winery - and he's passionate about

the Marlborough region. �is passion,

combined with experience of more than

25 vintages, has given him a deep

technical knowledge - but his natural

curiosity means that he still wants to

learn more and reveal the true potential

of Marlborough - and his enthusiasm for

Sauvignon Gris is testament to this.

FRENCH EXCHANGE

Never heard of Sauvignon Gris? �at's

no surprise. �is pink-skinned grape is

not a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and

Pinot Gris as some people might think.

In fact, it originated in Bordeaux alongside

Sauvignon Blanc,

but fell out of favour

following the phylloxera

epidemic that devastated

vines across France in

the mid-19th century.

Trying to rebuild their

vineyards as quickly as

possible, vignerons chose to plant highercropping

varietals, meaning Sauvignon

Gris almost became extinct.

A few French producers do still grow

Sauvignon Gris, and when the team from

Brancott Estate discovered the variety

on a trip to Bordeaux, they suspected

this French grape would flourish in New

Zealand. "Sauvignon Gris was traditionally

grown alongside Sauvignon Blanc and we

"Our Sauvignon Gris is a rich, generous

wine that retains the fresh vibrancy

of Marlborough" Patrick Materman

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