75cl * Vegan * 13.0% ABV * Marlborough, New Zealand
Located in the Wairau Valley area of Marlborough, Isabel Estate benefits from extensive sunshine hours combined with a long, cool growing season. The site itself is unusual for Marlborough, combining free-draining gravels with a narrow layer of clay in the subsoil, preventing excess water loss from the gravel. Concentration is achieved through densely planted vines, double the usual number in Marlborough. Sustainable viticultural practices are used, including mulching and organic fertilisers to maintain soil nutrition. From the outset, Isabel set a new trend among Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc producers – a style now being adopted elsewhere. Twenty percent of the hand-harvested fruit is fermented in small, French oak barrels to give a subtle, creamy weave to the palate.
The first commercial release of this Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was in 1996 and since then Isabel has earnt its place as one of the most iconic wines of the region. Whilst it's as grassy and fresh as you'd expect, this has a more restrained, serious style - partly down to a site that lies on higher ground to the south of the valley and on the banks of the Omaka river, and partly down to some really classy winemaking that has utilised barrel fermentation and lees ageing to good effect. Serve with new season grilled asparagus.
The Wine Merchant Top 100 - Winner 2021