Variations on a Sauv Blanc Theme - Kim Crawford Tasting in Ottawa
Updated: Feb 3
I love New Zealand white wines. They show appetizing aromatics, clean fruit flavours and zippy acidity. A few years ago I had an exceptional opportunity to taste Kim Crawford wines with
their winemaker, Anthony Walkenhorst, at the Courtyard Restaurant in Ottawa’s Byward Market. Anthony is a terrific educator, with a true passion both for making fine wines and for sharing his knowledge with others who love wine.
While I have often sampled New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, this comparative tasting went into more detail than usual, discussing several different blocks within the Kim Crawford vineyards. Now most people think Sauv Blanc is all the same, with that characterisitic canned asparagus flavour that we discovered in our first winetasting course. It's not everybody's cup of tea. However, Anthony led us through a systematic examination of 6 variations of their famous Sauvignon Blanc, throwing light on the different styles and nuances in flavours and aromatics.
Next, Anthony invited us to create our own unique blend, using a pipette and the samples we had just studied. What fun! First I decided to attempt an understated blend of Sauv Blanc from the Rarangi and Rapaura blocks, which I named “ Breakfast Blend”. Ummm, maybe a little too understated and bland…so maybe I don’t have a future as winemaker with a big New Zealand winery… Not daunted, however, I wanted to achieve a Sauv Blanc with bolder flavours, so next I blended Sauv Blanc from the Blind River and Awatere blocks. Yes, more like it! Bright and bursting with herbal, citrus and tropical flavours. I named this “Get Up and Go”.
This blending exercise gave us quite an insight into the job of a winemaker in developing a new wine blend. There’s a lot of experimentation involved. As Anthony said, he was drawn to become a winemaker because it combines science and creativity.
Next, we were invited to enjoy lunch. We sat down to delicious appetizers: smoked salmon
on crostini, tomato and bocconcini skewers with fresh basil leaves and Prosciutto-wrapped melon balls. The waiter served Kim Crawford Sauv Blanc and Pinot Noir. The main course was roast chicken with fall vegetables and the totally yummy dessert was an ultra-rich chocolate cake with Dulce de Leche and fresh berries. I was delighted by the versatility of the Pinot Noir that suited each different dish, especially the appetizers and chocolate cake. I’ve always felt that I could, if necessary, live off savoury appetizers and chocolate cake… especially if I have Kim Crawford wine to go with them!
This highly informative tasting taught us a lot about the role of winemaker and also expanded my appreciation of Sauv Blanc. I'm an even bigger fan of New Zealand wines now!
Accredited Sommelier, Wine, Food & Travel Writer, 2016
Photo credits, Jane Staples