It’s always a pleasure to meet wine producers and listen to them as they tell their story to consumers and I was fortunate enough last week to co-host a winemaker’s dinner with Steve Pellet of Marlborough’s Stanley Estates at Fat Olives Restaurant in Emsworth. Founded by Steve and his partner Bridget Ennals in 2003, Stanley Estates is now recognised as one of Marlborough’s premier wine producers. Steve and Bridget met while at Bath University while studying horticulture and having completed their degree’s set off on an epic journey through Africa, ending up in Cape Town, in a second-hand Land Rover that they had named Stanley – after Sir Henry Stanley of Dr Livingstone fame. Some years later, having travelled the world as fruit technologists, they found some land in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley and bought 11 hectares which they began to plant with vines and the name Stanley seemed to fit very well for their new venture. The first wines were launched with the 2009 vintage and with their 2010 Sauvignon Blanc they started to land all sorts of awards including the Best International Sauvignon Blanc Trophy at the International Wine Challenge competition.
The current Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Marlborough (£13.25) is for me still a benchmark Marlborough Sauvignon at a time when many examples now found on the supermarket shelves seem to have become a little too formulaic. Lovely aromatics of lime, passion fruit, tomato stalk and hints of cut grass fill the glass followed by some minerality and tropical flavours all really well balanced by zesty acidity. It went beautifully with a dish of cured local Chalk Stream trout.