International Sauvignon Blanc Conference 2019 | Marlborough, NZ

Every 4 years more than 250 very important delegates congregate in Marlborough to bask in a series of seminars, discussions and tastings to showcase New Zealand’s most iconic grape; Sauvignon Blanc. Having been lucky enough to attend the inaugural conference in 2016, I was thrilled to be invited back for the next instalment hosted by our most prestigious (and largest) Sauvignon producing region in New Zealand. This event is created for trade and media and unfortunately not open to consumers to attend.


More than 500 wines (not all Sauvignon Blanc) were tasted over the course of the three day conference. The defined themes for each of the three days were – Place, Purity and Pursuit. Each of the speakers unearthed a wealth of thought provoking ideas, opinions and suggestions with how New Zealand curates its journey of excellence to the world.

Below is the video created with wine personalities matching songs with their views on New Zealand Sauvignon. 

Matt Kramer (American wine critic) opened the show with a very determined view on the ongoing place NZ sauvignon has in the world of wine. Discussing the idea that New Zealand lacked culture, or the ability to convey the culture to the world, he insisted the ‘Champagne’ model should be applied to ensure success.

The afternoon lead us into an eclectic selection of NZ Sauvignon – from ‘light’ (low alcohol) to examples from South Africa, Napa & Austria. There were 12 wines in total and each flight was presented by Mountain, Sea And River – the major 3 elements that contributed to the success of Sauvignon terroir across the globe.

Each flight showed an excellent example of NZ, Mountain = Martinborough Te Tera 2018. River = Wairau River 2017. Sea (our own) Zephyr MKIII 2017. My pick of the bunch was certainly the Zephyr example, showing a beautiful saline nuance, and oxidative edge supported by soft stone fruit and crunchy NZ acid, sexy AF. New Zealand outshone in style across each of the flights, solidifying its diversity and quality.

We all had the (controversial) pleasure of Tim Hanni’s food and wine matching presentation, in which he tried to convince more than 250 wino’s that food and wine matching was bullshit. His quote of the day: “Bullshit overrides reality”.  There were references to psychological baggage with our individual sensitivities and learning NOT to food and wine match! It was certainly an interesting seminar, I am just not so sure it was completely believable, I don’t know I’d really appreciate Pinot Gris with a medium rare rib eye!


As the conference went on we witnessed some eye opening discoveries about New Zealand’s progress and focus. Although a massive emphasis was displayed on organics and sustainability in NZ, we were mostly all shocked by the inevitable and hugely concerning (hot) topic of climate change. Steve Smith highlighted the factors we will all be responsible for in years to come and presented a hilarious video to the audience. I suggest everyone takes note – and begins to mindfully make some contributions in their daily life. Video below: 

Stimulating conversation on climate change, its severe impact and the fact we have all contributed to it resonated deeply across the room.  


By the end of the three days ( and tens of thousands bottles of Sauvignon) it was evident the impact New Zealand Sauvignon has made across the world, it was enlightening to see such a wicked response from the producers we met, understanding how serious about their Sauvignon future they really are. Truth be told this grape has captivated the world and New Zealand is able to produce examples of sincerity and class, in my mind these are Sexy As F**k.

P.S Sexy As F**K tee’s soon to be available in the UK. #watchthisspace


While International Sauvignon Blanc day is on 4th May, we’re getting our celebrations in EARLY on Thursday 25th April from 6-8pm! And as this falls on ANZAC day, we feel it is only right to raise our glasses in remembrance to the brave Aussie & Kiwis who fought for our freedom over 100 years ago! #LestWeForget.

The celebration is only £5 and this will get you entry, access to tasting your way through 40+ wines, jamming to the Pop Brixton DJ and sharing banter with like-minded Savvy lovers!
Where – Pop Box, Pop Brixton, London, UK
When – Thursday 25th April 6-8pm


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Specialist Cellars has paused its virtual doors for now. We’re still open and operating at our Pop Brixton store this Summer. You can also visit us 7 days a week at The Laundry Restaurant for sublime food, wine and coffee @brixtonlaundry.

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