Loveblock Orange Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand
"From here you can almost see the end of the Earth; the peace lifts you above your troubles." - Erica Crawford
Perched high in the hills overlooking Marlborough's Awatere Valley, Loveblock feels a world away from the agricultural hustle & bustle below. Kim and Erica Crawford acquired this wild and untamed patch of land in 2004 and have turned their organic Loveblock farm into a haven of biodiversity. It is here they make a Sauvignon Blanc of constrained elegance and an emphasis on texture. Meanwhile in Central Otago, Kim and Erica farm five different clones of Pinot Noir on their 9-hectare Someone's Darling vineyard, planted on sand over schist close to Bendigo, in the warmer climes of this most southerly wine region.
Their Orange Sauvignon Blanc is pretty revolutionary. Strictly speaking this isn't an orange wine in the sense of its being a skin-contact white. Here's the story.
For the first time in 2018, a small parcel of vines on the Woolshed vineyard on Loveblock farm was selected for a winemaking trial whereby green tea powder replaced sulphur dioxide as a preservative (in tiny quantities, about a teaspoon per 13,000 litres, this doesn't taste of green tea!). South Africans have been trialling a similar process with rooibos tea. This is therefore a wine that's been stabilised with an antioxidant but zero added sulphites, just the green tea.
In 2018, the wine 'pinked' at bottling leaving it orange in colour. And though the colour could settle, on opening a bottle the wine would revert to orange. Hence the name!
The 2019 vintage got 5 mg/l of green tea powder at every stage, from press to tank, every movement between tanks and finally on the bottling line. This time it hasn't turned orange, but the name is here to stay.
Like Kim & Erica's more conventional Sauvignon Blanc, this is a cracker. Pale straw colour with hints of green and gold, heady aroma of lemongrass, white peach and citrus, the wine is layered, textured, a hint of tannin and lingering minerality.