Another Excuse to Raise a Glass!
Imagine you’re at a blind tasting. The glass put in front of you exudes gooseberry, lemongrass, grapefruit, and jalapeños. The wine is austere in profile, crisp on the body and lip-smacking on the finish. How long would it take you to figure it out? Most likely, your mind would be screaming the answer before the words could even form on your lips. Without a doubt, it’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a wine so incredibly unique that it is instantly recognizable.
Although Sauvignon Blanc is grown all over the world, nowhere is it more distinctive in character and influential to a region than in New Zealand. As International Sauvignon Blanc Day approaches this Friday, we thought we would pull out some of our favorites from Down Under to celebrate this varietal. If you were looking for an excuse to raise a glass tomorrow night, here it is. You’re welcome!
Our first two wines are from Marlborough. On the northern tip of the South Island, Marlborough is the region most connected to this iconic grape Down Under. It has a cool climate, with a long growing season, which gives that crisp, pungent bite to the varietal. This is home to the quintessential New Zealand style, bursting with intense aromatics and loaded with passion fruit, gooseberry, and grassy-lemongrass character.
2018 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough: At K&L, this is one of our staff favorites. Husband-and-wife team Anna and Jason Flowerday are making some phenomenal wines, and the Sauvignon Blanc is one of their stars. Low yields and a combination of organic and biodynamic practices produce a rich, mineral-driven Sauvignon Blanc with classic gooseberry and citrus flavors. A small amount of lees aging in French oak imparts texture and depth to this lovely wine.
2017 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough: With former Kim Crawford winemaker, Matt Large, at the helm of this wine, you know it’s going to be good. This is for people who love the style of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Showcasing signature Marlborough flavors and vibrant acidity, the wine shows restrained elegance with gooseberry, guava and citrus, graced by a subtle salinity.
Hawke’s Bay, which is located on the North Island, is the oldest wine region in New Zealand. It has a warmer climate that brings the fruit to the forefront. Known more for their red wines, this region does produce some fun Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll find a slightly riper, fruitier style from this region.
2018 Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc Hawke’s Bay: The oldest winery in Hawke’s Bay, Te Mata was established in the late 19th century and is one of New Zealand’s most well-known and well-loved producers. The wine shows a unique style for New Zealand, with exotic, complex flavors of ripe, lush tropical fruit.
2017 Wildflower Sauvignon Blanc Hawke’s Bay: This also shows the slightly fruitier side of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Loaded with sweet mandarin citrus, tropical fruit, gooseberry and key lime, it has a juicy, mouthwatering finish that begs another sip. Friendly and uncomplicated, yet utterly delicious, this is the perfect porch wine on a warm summer’s day.
Lastly, we had to include this stunning wine from North Canterbury. A fairly uncommon place to grow Sauvignon Blanc, this region is generally known for their cool-climate Pinot Noir. It sits on the east coast of the South Island, just under Marlborough with views of the snow-capped Southern Alps on one side and the chilly Pacific on the other. A long ridge of mountains shields the ocean winds, protecting the vines and allowing an eclectic group of winemakers to create some stunning wines.
2017 Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc North Canterbury: Winemaker Sam Weaver describes his winemaking style as clean and balanced, with his focus pointed toward palate length and fruit flavor. In this wine, the grassiness is reined in to expose the inherent tropical fruits, ripe peach and green pear character. It still has that fresh lemongrass, passionfruit and citrus-blossom zing, but with solid weight and depth in the mouth.