I felt somewhat special when I recently tasted the Cloudy Bay 2012 - and it wasn't just because the brand name is synonymous with one of the best expressions of Sauvignon Blanc to come out of Marlborough, the wet and cloudy part of New Zealand that has made the white wine grape sexy all over again. In the run-up to the harvest last year, Marlborough got more than its usual share of rainfall, bringing the harvest down by 25 per cent. This means that the world will have less of the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2012 to drink than of previous vintages.
Unlike other agricultural commodities, a drop in grape harvest isn't exactly bad news - at least not for the consumer, because the ones that survive the struggle against inclement weather are full of character. It's like hitting a perfect score in the GRE, or making it to the final-three stage of Indian Idol, in the same way as the best and brightest scale these peaks.
The Cloudy Bay 2012 lived up to the expectations
it had raised. It had the passion fruit and gooseberry characteristics that make a Marlborough classic pleasing to the nose, and clean and vibrant on the palate. The wine was bursting with fruit aromas because, as I was to learn later, Marlborough had warmed up by the time of the harvest, allowing the berries that had survived the rain to ripen better under the mellow sun.
Having said all this, I must make a confession - and I hope God forgives me for this blasphemy. Driven entirely by the kind of insanity you'd expect at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, I paired the Cloudy Bay 2012 with a McEgg burger, my favourite McDonald's food item. To my surprise, and I am sure the wine gurus of Marlborough will have an apoplectic fit if they read this, the pairing was perfect. The burger's dressing - mayo, chopped onions and a certain proprietary secret ingredient -got along deliciously with the wine.
Of course, I would ideally have a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with more evolved food, such as grilled scallops or, better still, Chilean sea bass, or California maki rolls, or a creamy soup with asparagus, but it's amazing how easily this particular white wine pairs with food.
Many years ago, I had another Marlborough legend
, a Sauvignon Blanc from Babich, with a most memorable Punjabi breakfast of and a bhurji-gobhi parantha, which came with a generous dollop of desi ghee. I was amazed at the ease with which my host and I emptied two bottles of the wine between us. A classicist would do a double take and ask the Lord to forgive me for I know not what I am doing, but give me gobhi parantha with a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and I will sell my soul.
A Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, in fact, pairs immaculately with our everyday food. I had the Dawoodi Bohra delicacies baida parantha and dal gosht the other day with a Sauvignon Blanc from the Saint Claire family estate, yet another celebrated Marlborough label. The pairing didn't fail me. So, take out a Marlborough the next time you have lightly marinated fish tikka and murgh malai tikka. You'll bless me for the advice, even as the folks at Cloudy Bay prepare to banish me from the wonderful world of wine given that I have enjoyed it with the humblest food.