Saint Clair Pioneer Block 3, I stumbled across the highly original concept of an oaked Sauvingnon Blanc. Being a fan of both oaked whites and Sauvignon Blanc, I thought this might be worth a go.
Te Mata's SB is barrel fermented with an addition of a touch of Sauvignon Gris and Semillon in order to give a bit of balance and introduce some more complementary flavours. The result, I am assured, is that this wine is not far off a mix of Bordeaux Blanc and Kiwi SB. Having rarely tried top Bordeaux Blanc I'm not qualified to comment on that, but it certainly was nice.
Colour: Funnily enough, despite the oaking, this was almost clear but with a slight tinge of green. So far, so Sauvignon Blanc.
Nose: Ah, well the similarity ended there. With aromas of peach, apricot, honey, vanilla and citrus, one might be forgiven for thinking that this smelled like a typical Chardonnay. The raciness of the citrus made a nice balance, effectively replacing the 'minerality' one might expect from a Chardonnay.
Palate: Stone fruit - peach and apricot again - backed by vanilla with a twinge of green apple and citrussy zestiness, reminding us that this is an oaked SB, not a Chardonnay. A nice dollop of honey to round things off. There's a smooth and creamy texture to this with a sweet but light hint of Spring to it (sorry for the utterly obtuse note there. Perhaps blossom might serve better?)
Body: This is as full-bodied a SB as anyone is likely to try with a smooth texture which ends a touch abruptly with a zing of sharp citrus and acidity.
Finish: Medium length, and finishes a little sour with an almost coffee-like sourness (the taste following a big swig of black filter coffee). Not entirely pleasant, but not wholly unpleasant either.
Conclusion: An interesting experiment that was put up against the more illustrious (or at the very least the more famous) Cloudy Bay Te Koko and which stood up well. In time it developed stronger flavours but was perhaps a little less balanced that one would have hoped and the finish let it down a little. That being said, an interesting wine and certainly one to try next to an unoaked SB (Saint Clair Pioneer Block 3 would give an almost comical contrast) and an oaked Chardonnay (you can't go wrong with Ataraxia).
Points: Hard to rate a wine like this. Tasty and interesting, but a touch unbalanced with a slightly disappointing finish, meaning I can't really give it more than 87. I'm tempted to go down to 86.