The Versatility of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Royal Oaks Living and it is reprinted here with permission.
Sauvignon Blanc is an aromatic, versatile white grape that’s grown around the world.
It’s famous in France for its use in the mineral rich wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, as well as white Bordeaux in which it’s often blended with Semillon. New world wine regions have embraced the varietal, too. In California, it’s made into a range of wines and often labeled Fume Blanc to signify the presence of oak. It is also popular in South Africa and Chile. However, for many sommeliers and wine drinkers, the best expression of Sauvignon Blanc comes from New Zealand.
New Zealand is well known for its flightless birds, kiwis, and breathtaking scenery, including the fiords of the South Island that are featured in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. It’s also renowned for its distinctive, intensely aromatic sauvignon blanc.
Marlborough, located in the Northeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, is considered the “mecca” for the sauvignon blanc grape…despite its newness to the region. (The sauvignon blanc grape was first planted there in the 1973.) The surrounding oceans greatly influence the South Island’s climate, resulting in a cool, sunny maritime environment that’s ideal for growing sauvignon blanc grapes. In fact, sauvignon blanc vines comprise approximately 50% of all vineyard plantings in the country.
Sauvignon blanc wines from the region range in flavor from tropical fruit to bell pepper to jalapeno. And they have a refreshing acidity that makes them an ideal pairing for meals…or sipping outside.
If you’re searching for a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, here are some of my recommendations:
Cloudy Bay: The brand that catapulted New Zealand to Sauvignon Blanc fame. Its first vintage was 1985, and since then it’s developed a cult-like following. If you drink New Zealand sauvignon blanc chances are you’ve had this one. It’s one of my picks because it’s consistently delicious, and a good benchmark for Marlborough sauvignon blanc.
Kim Crawford: Kim Crawford started in 1996 as a personal passion of Kim and his wife Erica. From the spare bedroom of their home in Auckland, they grew the winery to one of the country’s most recognized producers of sauvignon blanc. Rated 90+ by Wine Spectator for seven consecutive years, and a Wine Spectators Top 100 List in 2003 and 2005, the wine has a lot of accolades. This wine is an affordable alternative to Cloudy Bay, but equally enjoyable.
Loveblock: Kim Crawford actually left his namesake winery in 2008 and started Loveblock, an organically farmed vineyard on the hills overlooking Marlborough’s Awatere Valley. The area is unique for its elevation and cool arctic breezes, and the wine is definitely worth experiencing.
Dog Point: A relative newcomer, Dog Point’s first vintage was 2002. All its fruit is estate grown and hand harvested. Owned by veterans of the New Zealand sauvignon blanc industry, Ivan and James, who met while working at Cloudy Bay. The duo focuses on combining old world philosophy with new world winemaking technology.
Jules Taylor, Stoneleigh and Boulder Bank are three additional New Zealand sauvignon blancs worth exploring.
Looking for more insights on sauvignon blanc wines and other wines from around the world? Double Decanted offers a curated collection of bottles at a variety of price points. Let us help you find the perfect bottle – or bottles – for any occasion! To set up an appointment, please email Kelly@doubledecanted.com. Cheers!