Samantha is the daughter of Sue and Greg White, who founded Whitehaven Winery back in 1994, and she is also now a second generation member of the winery team. This wine is named after her and made as a méthode traditionelle; another way of saying it’s made the same way as champagne – and using the same type of grapes. In this case, the bubbles is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, all handpicked at low sugar levels (brix of 18-19°) to retain refreshing acidity and keep the wine at a modest alcohol of 12% ABV. The grapes were whole bunch pressed and went through malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity, which provides creamy flavours in the wine, which was then bottled for its secondary fermentation where the carbon dioxide dissolves into the wine. It was aged on lees for 22 months, developing secondary, savoury notes over that time. It’s a deeply refreshing, citrusy fresh, creamy, full bodied bubbly. Every sip lingers – and it only costs a fraction of the price of a comparable champagne.
(I realise that last sentence is likely to provide a talking point but in the course of my work as wine adviser to Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington, New Zealand, I do taste an enormous range of sparkling wines – and am lucky enough to drink many of them too.)