Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Wine Review: Matahiwi Estate Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2014 & Holly Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Matahiwi Estate Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2014 & Holly Matahiwi Estate Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2013

I can hear you already: what the hell is going on here? What's up with all these strange names? Wairarapa is a winemaking region of New Zealand in the south-eastern-most part of the North Island, across the water from Marlborough. Matahiwi Estate is a family-owned winery in Wairarapa. Sauvignon Blanc is a wine grape, and 2013 and 2014 were years that you should probably remember. Unless you drank way too much Sauvignon Blanc, which is completely understandable.

Matahiwi produces several tiers: Mt Hector is their introductory level, the self-titled Matahiwi is their "premium range", and Holly is their limited production and reserve level.

Matahiwi Estate bottle cap
The Matahiwi, as I'll call it from here on out, goes for $20 retail. Most of the grapes come from their home vineyard at Opaki in Wairarapa but some of them come from the Hillview vineyard in Martinborough (another region on the North Island, not to be confused with South Island's Marlborough). It's tank fermented using yeasts that can handle colder temperatures because those colder temperatures preserve the fruit flavors. This wine just won Gold at the 2015 New World Wine Awards.

The Holly will cost you $29 retail. All of the fruit comes from Matahiwi's home vineyard in Opaki, and it uses several different clones of Sauvignon Blanc. Rather than being tank fermented like the Matahiwi, the Holly is barrel fermented. Immediately after being harvested the grapes are pressed and put into French oak barrels where it ferments with both cultured and wild yeast. It spends a year on its lees and gets stirred up once in awhile before it's fined, filtered and bottled.

Phew. After all of that I'm ready for bed. Can I just chug these bottles real quick and call it a night? No??? Crap. Because this review is of two Sauvignon Blancs I'll taste them together as a kind of a compare and contrast.

Side by side in glasses the Holly is a little bit lighter than the Matahiwi. The Holly is more of a vegetable oil yellow while the Matahiwi has a more golden hue to it.

The nose on the Matahiwi explodes with lime, grapefruit and jalapeño. It's a powerful nose that just says "hello, I'm gonna knock your worthless socks off with acidic fruit and you're gonna like it!" The Holly goes off in a completely different direction. It's smokey and nutty and minerally. They both share that jalapeño, though. What we have here is new-school vs old-school.

I try not to let tech sheets have an affect on what I'm personally tasting but sometimes what they say is dead on and you would have never guessed it yourself. In this case it's passion fruit. The Matahiwi tastes like a glassful of passion fruit. It's not as acidic as I thought it would be but it finishes with an upswing of tart lime. Just like on the nose, the Holly is completely different. It's earthy and yeasty. For fruit there's old lime and green olives. Those descriptors may not sound all that appealing but trust me: this wine is unbelievable. It's also got a big, heavy body and finishes silky smooth.

Both of these wines are absolutely worth the price of admission.

I'm giving the Matahiwi Estate Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2014 a 4 out of 5 in price vs. quality. For $20 you'll totally feel justified and pleased with your decision to purchase, and I officially recommend that you do.

Price: $20
Rating: 4/5 = Recommended (what does that mean?)

The Holly Wairarapa Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is on another level of both price and quality. $29 is a ridiculous drop of cash for wine at this point in my life, and most people on this planet, so it better be worth it. But if I'm going to spend almost $30 on a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc then this is where I want my money to go. I give it a 5 out 5 for Highly Recommended.

Price: $29
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

The bottles used were supplied free of charge for the purpose of this unpaid review. To have your wine reviewed follow this link.


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