As a general rule, I recommend that sauvignon blanc be drunk within 2 years of its vintage date. That explosive freshness that comes with a new release sauvignon blanc can drop away very quickly after a couple of years. No surprise that you’ll see 2014 and 2015 vintages hitting the bin-ends in the stores right now.
The exception to that rule is sauvignon blanc that gets oak treatment, as time in the barrel (as compared with time in stainless steel) adds complexity and longevity. A couple of great examples of oaked sauvignon blanc, are Cloudy Bay’s “Te Koko” and Domaine A’s “Lady A”. The latest release Lady A is 2014 and it’s expected to last until at least 2024.
I’ll leave you to Google the derivation and application of “fume blanc” but at least in Australia, fume blanc is typically used to denote a sauvignon blanc that is oaked, in the same way that in Australia, the use of syrah tells the buyer that the wine is not your typical jammy shiraz even though they are the same grape.
So, here we have Eldridge’s 2015 Fume Blanc. Not your typical Kiwi tropical fruit bomb. Actually, the first time I met David Lloyd, he described sauvignon blanc (as quite a few other winemakers do) as a weed. Time has softened his stance. Here’s his response to Mike Bennie’s comments (see the attached promo):
“I have not shown my sauvignon blanc to wine writers for about 15 years. 8 years ago I started making the Fume style at the suggestion of Merry Edwards in California. I have two clones, one gives tropical flavours and the other the more typical grassy aromas. Dave Bicknell encouraged me to pick earlier and the fruit is there. All the fruit is airbag pressed before fermenting in French Oak barrels, 20% new. Even I can enjoy sauvignon blanc made this way so I am coming out of the sauvignon blanc closet.” – David Lloyd, November 2015
Halliday says drink by 2017 like typical un-oaked sauvignon blanc. Mike Bennie and Huon Hooke give more emphasis to the oak treatment and suggest drinking to 2020 and 2021 respectively.