AMW logo makes Sauvignon Blanc drinkers savvy to wine’s true origins.
Can a wine label help you understand exactly where the grapes came from, how sustainably they were grown and where the wine was made and bottled? If you’re looking at a bottle of Blind River Sauvignon Blanc, it can – all from just three initials ‘AMW’ on the back label. Allow us to explain.
Nobody likes to buy a product that isn’t genuine and wine lovers are no different. Which is why French wine regions including Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Champagne and many others are protected by a strict ‘AOC’ or ‘Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée‘ guaranteeing that the grapes were grown in the region shown on the label and the wines were produced in accordance with strict quality criteria.
It’s not just wines that are protected, with Roquefort cheese, Armagnac and Cognac, Parma ham and many other agricultural products also protected by strict regional laws and standards, ensuring generic produce from other regions around the world can’t carry these coveted titles.
Now, Marlborough has established a standard to protect the integrity, authenticity and brand value of its Sauvignon Blanc known as ‘Appellation Marlborough Wine’. Common sense would suggest that any wine with ‘Marlborough’ on the front label 100% from the region, whereas in fact they are permitted to say ‘Marlborough’ with just 85% Marlborough grapes – the remaining 15% could be grapes from elsewhere.
AMW not only assures that the wine has been made from grapes grown entirely in Marlborough, they must have been grown by vineyards independently certified by Sustainable Winegrowing NZ. They must also be from managed yields established according to soil type and vine density, and the wine bottled in New Zealand. Quite a mouthful, but a good one.
Blind River Sauvignon Blanc 2018 was amongst the first wines to carry the AMW ‘Appellation Marlborough Wine’ logo. Made from grapes from a single vineyard, Blind River Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect example of a wine that reflects the distinctive characters of not only the Awatere Valley, but the specific vineyard site.
Yet Blind River is also very much the result of not just terroir but also teamwork, specifically the collaborative efforts of winemakers Marcus Wright and Rebecca Wiffen and the entire Lawson’s Dry Hills team. It has also proven to be one of the company’s most awarded wines, with the 2015 picking up five trophies at the 2016 International Wine Challenge along with numerous other accolades. Subsequent vintages have won a number of awards locally and abroad, including the trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc at the 2019 New Zealand Wine of the Year Awards
AMW has far reaching benefits. With 86% of wine produced in New Zealand being Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and an export value approaching $2 billion, there’s the ripple effect as it indirectly helps to protect the New Zealand wine industry as a whole. The AMW logo has been legally trademarked worldwide including critical export markets like USA and the U.K. While AMW currently applies only to Sauvignon Blanc, it is likely to be extended to other wines in future.
It’s also refreshing to see that this is one initiative that is bringing different Marlborough wine producers together to benefit the region as a whole. AMW is chaired by Ivan Sutherland from Dog Point Vineyard supported by a committee made up of a number of producers including Belinda Jackson of Lawson’s Dry Hills.
So when choosing a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it’s well worth checking the back label to ensure that it is exactly what you want to spend your money on – 100% Marlborough, made from sustainably certified grapes and bottled in New Zealand.