Dog Point Vineyard
Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Section 94 is one of the world’s most distinct wines, and regularly named New Zealand’s greatest Sauvignon Blanc. It’s so tough to place, which is extraordinary given that Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most defined and recognizable wine styles in the world. The exotic smoky and spicy flavors mingling with floral and ripe citrus notes, textural roundness playing against cool and fresh raciness; it’s not about generalities of the grape variety or the region, it’s a very specific wine made to emphasize the qualities of a very special place.
Section 94 is Dog Point’s signature wine, an update on James’ Healy’s Te Koko, the barrel-fermented Sauvignon he created while at Cloudy Bay. The names refers to the singular parcel of old vines where the grapes are sourced. Fruit is hand-picked at low yields (virtually unheard of in New Zealand), green harvested at times (totally crazy), and fermented entirely with native yeasts. The wine sees extended aging in barrel with virtually no intervention. High risk winemaking resulting in high reward individuality.
The single vineyard parcel called Section 94 was planted in 1992. The vineyard is managed to reduce yields, and as is the case with all Dog Point wines, fruit is hand-picked (only 5% of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is hand-picked).
The soils are free draining silty clay loams on the flats of the valley, as these express intense citrus and grapefruit flavors. Dog Point operates under what is called the “Biogro” program, an initiative to promote the production of premium quality wine utilizing environmentally friendly and responsible practices.
The grapes were whole-cluster pressed, reducing the extraction of vegetative pyrazines and bitter anthocyanins, and fermented (with native yeasts) and aged in older French oak barrels for 18 months. Bottling is without fining.
Much needed rainfall in January, coupled with above average temperatures helped the vines for the 2016 vintage flourish in the New Year. Northerly airstreams in March brought additional rainfall, but April welcomed Marlborough’s classic Indian summer, allowing all vineyards to achieve full ripeness and concentration. The Section 94 fruit was picked on April 17th.
Pale Straw in color, with ripe aromas of grapefruit, lemon curd, jasmine, toast and honeycomb at the forefront. The nose offers characteristic notes of struck match, which reflect the use of solids during fermentation and aging and adds a dimension of complexity and interest. The palate is rich, round and generous, while retaining vibrant, Sauvignon Blanc qualities of citrus and racy fresh acidity. Flavors of Meyor lemon linger with creamy textures and a nutty finish. Cellar easily 5 to 7 years.
The wine’s juicy palate and fresh acidity upfront is followed by a soft, round texture. This weight and texture reflects the philosophies of employing low yielding, mature vines growing on the silty-clay loam soils of Marlborough’s Southern Valleys.
A great meal accompaniment, we enjoy this wine with a variety of fish, poultry and soft white cheeses. It is especially great with salmon!
Certified Organic & Sustainable. All vineyards were converted to organic farming in 2009. 2,000 sheep graze and fertilize in winter; prunings are composted and spread; 25 steer also graze the property.
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Wine Spectator - "Impressively deep, with whiffs of smoke, white pepper, honeycomb and orange blossom that melt into apricot, dried mango and lemon curd flavors. Matcha green tea and nutmeg details linger on the long, expressive finish, with a delicate thread of acidity weaving in and out, keeping the flavors fresh. Drink now."
Wine Advocate (92+) - "To emphasize its difference from the classic Sauvignon Blanc, Dog Point's 2016 Section 94 steadfastly refuses to note the varietal on the front label. Which, I should note for TTB purposes, is actually the back label. Whatever. It continues to be a benchmark for the so-called alternative style of Sauvignon Blanc, being barrel-fermented with high solids and indigenous yeasts. Wild notes of green onions and sweat dominate the nose at the moment, but I expect them to mellow with time in the bottle and reveal the underlying stone fruit and grapefruit elements. It's medium to full-bodied but fresh and vibrant, with a crisp, citrusy finish. Unlike most Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs, the Section 94 and similar wines can drink well for up to a decade or more from the vintage."
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