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Montana toasts 30 vintages of Sauvignon Blanc

Media release 2 July 2008

Montana toasts 30 vintages of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Montana toasted 30 vintages of the iconic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with the release of this year’s Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and guests celebrated the wine that launched quality New Zealand wines onto the world stage.

In 1973 Montana took the bold step of planting the first modern vineyards in the Brancott Valley in Marlborough. It proved to be an inspired choice, as was Montana’s decision to grow Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough has since become New Zealand’s premier wine region, with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc undoubtedly the country’s signature wine on the international market. Today, Montana Letter Series Brancott “B” Sauvignon Blanc is named after the birthplace of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

In 1979, Montana released the very first Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a milestone achievement for the New Zealand wine industry and the region of Marlborough. Montana pioneered a new modern age of grapegrowing.

Ten years later, this quintessential New Zealand wine style was acknowledged as the best in the world, when the Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1989 won the Marquis de Goulaine Trophy at the 1990 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London.

A group of 250 members of the wine trade and media gathered in Auckland on Tuesday 1st July 2008 to celebrate this year’s vintage of Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

“While all those unique natural factors that make Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc the best in the world are still evident, we’ve made massive strides since that first vintage,” says Jeff Clarke, Montana’s chief winemaker. “The quality of the wine just keeps getting better, and today Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is exported to over 30 markets around the world.”

Montana’s team of five winemakers have a combined experience of 89 vintages in the region so it's no surprise that they can coax the best out of the land.

“As the original pioneers, our understanding of the region and the variety is unparalleled,” says Clarke. “We now grow Sauvignon Blanc in each of the three main sub regions or sub appellations within Marlborough. Each brings its own distinctive characters to the Sauvignon Blanc grown there. We have unequalled experience in harnessing the potential of these areas, blending a Sauvignon Blanc that truly represents the region as a whole.”

This year, the Marlborough harvest has delivered in both the wine quality and volume. New vineyards coming into full production and near perfect growing conditions have seen superb quality and a dramatic increase in the quantity of Sauvignon Blanc grapes harvested, especially when compared with the low-yielding 2007 harvest.

Flowering was excellent with warm, sunny weather. This was followed by well-timed rain just before veraison. This created cluster sizes that were above average for Sauvignon Blanc, contributing to a larger than expected crop. Expert vineyard attention, including canopy, nutrient and irrigation management, meant that the vines yielded full-flavoured fruit at harvest.

Investment in new winery infrastructure paid dividends this year, allowing Montana to bring the fruit into the winery in optimum condition, before the rain that set in towards the end of the Marlborough vintage.

“All in all, 2008 looks to be an excellent vintage with the added advantage that we have enough supply to catch up with global demand,” says Clarke.

“The flavours are typically bold, ripe and zesty, exactly what you’d expect from a classic Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a true kiwi icon.”


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