I sit in the posh CÉ LA VI at the top floor of Marina Bay Sands, which towers above Singapore’s concrete skyscraper jungle. Slowly I savour slices of meticulously plated seared salmon tataki topped with smoked ikura, with Jalapeno coulis on the side. To make things even better, the starter is finished with a glass of Cloudy Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc 2018. The sublime pairing is a veritable oral explosion that renders me oddly speechless – the sweetness of the salmon is complemented by the freshness of the floral wine – and lifts the palate for more. The combination leaves me almost buoyant; cue The Carpenter’s Top of the World.
New Zealand-based Cloudy Bay has launched its Sauvignon Blanc 2018 in Singapore, and beyond its reinvigorating, opulent taste, the wine hints at citrus, kaffir lime, passionfruit and white stone fruit. With the new edition joining the family of prided Sauvignon Blancs – easily one of the world’s most popular white wines – we speak to Jim White, technical director of Cloudy Bay, to help us understand this drink a little more.
01: The sauvignon blancs in France, California and New Zealand are different in taste and texture
Due to France’s warm climate, the Sauvignon Blanc grown in Sancerre are more mineral and textural but lack aroma, White says, while the ones grown in California tend to be more opulent, tropical and fruited. In Marlborough, which plays home to Cloudy Bay, a combination of cool and sunny climates allows wine to retain acidity and freshness yet at the same time develop citrus and stone fruit flavours in their wines These are not overly tropical.
02: This harvest year recorded the highest temperatures at the vineyards in Marlborough
“It is our warmest growing season on record,” White reveals, adding that the warmth lasted through December and January. But White says that the significant rainfalls in the first two months of the year helped keep the vines fresh and canopies vibrant. “This allowed the vines to build a great deal of opulent flavours, and we’ve got lots of guava and passion fruit, which is a little bit different from the 2017 vintage which was cooler.”
03: Cloudy Bay pioneered an alternative style of Sauvignon Blanc
“Instead of using stainless steel fermentation and controlled yeast and temperatures, we used indigenous yeast, barrel fermentation and quite a long period of ageing and barrel of 18 months,” White explained. The result was the 2013 Te Koko, which boasts notes of nectarine, kaffir lime and lemongrass. “The 2018 Cloudy Bay is all about wine of great freshness and purity. It’s about capturing the vineyard flavours and getting those into a bottle with very precise winemaking,” says White. “Te Koko, on the other hand, is all about making a wine of complexity and layers and different textures.”
“The 2018 Cloudy Bay is all about wine of great freshness and purity. It’s about capturing the vineyard flavours and getting those into a bottle with very precise winemaking.”
– Jim White
04: Seafood works magic when paired with Sauvignon Blanc
No surprises here, but what are White’s exact recommendations?
“Simple seafood dishes for me is always the best,” White says. He goes on to add that the dish he’d love to pair a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with is (drum rolls) raw scallops. “Raw scallops drained out of the shell, coupled with a glass of Sauvignon is amazing,” he says. “Something like oysters work exceptionally well too… salmon, sashimi, and even some prawn stir-frys with condiments like garlic and ginger work really well with Sauvignon.”
05: You might want to try pairing Sauvignon Blanc with… Singaporean cuisine
Singaporeans have got the world at their doorstep, White says, having visited the country a couple of times to launch the past editions of vintage Sauvignon Blancs. “There are the most amazing seafood here from every part of the world,” he says.
“I am a great fan of nasi lemak! It might not be a bad idea, after all.”
Pairings with Peranakan food are worth trying, he adds. “It’s that sort of vibrant, sort of herbal, a little touch of chilli that really works well.”
White flirts with the idea of pairing Singaporean cuisine with the new Sauvignon Blanc.
“It will be really interesting to see how it goes with a dish like nasi lemak. I am a great fan of nasi lemak! It might not be a bad idea, after all.”