There are many ardent fans of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc—and who can blame them?—so we at Boisson were thrilled to add Giesen's 0% Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to our collection of nonalcoholic wines. Since it became an instant favorite of both our customers and our staff, we were so excited to talk with Duncan Shouler, Giesen Wines' Chief Winemaker, about his process and passion. Read on to learn more, preferably with a glass in hand!
How did you come into wine-making?
I initially studied Marine Biology, so I have a science background. I've been interested in wine since an early age, and have always found the connection between the product and its origins fascinating. After moving from the UK to New Zealand in 2000, the opportunity came along to start a new career in a young and exciting industry there. So I studied winemaking and the rest is history!
What was the inspiration to create a de-alcoholized Sauvignon Blanc?
We embarked on a heath and wellbeing challenge at the winery in 2019. This meant none of the winemaking team could drink wine for a month! So that was a real motivation to trial creating a nonalcoholic wine. At the same time we could see the low and no alcohol categories really taking off around the world, with beers and spirits alternatives. So it was perfect timing for us to get into 0% alcohol wine.
What makes Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough special?
New Zealand is perfect for cool climate grape growing. Essentially it's two narrow islands that wherever you are you'll be no more than 140 miles from the coast! The maritime influence, ideal rainfall, coupled with differing soils that suit Sauvignon Blanc. The growing season days are long, warm, but evenings are cool, creating an intensity of flavor like no other.
Does creating a 0% wine present a different set of problems than regular wine? If so, what's your approach to finding solutions?
Yes, the challenge is creating a product that still looks and feels like a wine but without the alcohol. Alcohol has a huge influence on wine, both in supporting aroma and in giving body and natural sweetness to the wine. Using Sauvignon Blanc was a clear direction for us at the start, as in New Zealand we are blessed with such high levels of natural aroma. This meant we could still capture this aroma in the 0% alcohol wine, even at a diluted level. We made the conscious decision to have lower sugar in our 0% wines than many other styles currently in the market, as this meant the wine was closer in style to its full alcohol cousin, and also with much lower calories. Without the higher sugar levels, we have managed to impart body and texture by using yeast lees contact, which adds natural proteins to the wine.
What do you see as the future for alcohol-free wines?
I really see the category continuing to grow. For me, it's all about the quality of the product. Zero alcohol wines need to be a quality drink that is a serious alternative to full strength wines, and they need to give the consumer as close an experience to regular wine as possible. The quality of the base wine is key. The wines also need to display the great characters that make wine so special: balance of flavor, and expression of where they come from.
As a person who also enjoys alcoholic wine, how often or for what purpose do you reach for a 0% wine?
For me personally, it's my nonalcoholic drink of choice with food. Especially rich food that needs to be matched with a beverage that is dry and has good acidity. I've tried the 0% alcohol Giesen Sauvignon Blanc with a range of foods, from Salad Niçoise to goat cheese, and it works fantastically well!
What's the best way to enjoy a glass of Giesen 0% Sauvignon Blanc?
I really enjoy the Giesen 0% Sauvignon Blanc when relaxing with family and friends, especially at a summer BBQ and with the wine served chilled. The 0% wines are wonderfully refreshing and have the added benefit of 0% alcohol.
What has made you most proud on this journey of 0% winemaking with Giesen?
Some of the feedback we have on the 0% Alcohol wine range has been fantastic. We hear from people who say they have been looking for this product for years, and that finally they are able to enjoy a good glass of wine with family, friends, and food without the alcohol. When we hear that, it really makes the hard work we've put into this worth it.
Our motto at Boisson is seeing the Glass Half Full. How do you think alcohol-free alternatives like yours allows people to see the glass half full?
They can drink a full glass of wine and still not consume any alcohol!