New Zealand makes some of the best sauvignon blancs in the world. This Friday 7th May, take your pick from some of the best of the bunch
Originally a French grape, the name 'sauvignon blanc' gets its name from the French words 'sauvage' (wild) and 'blanc' (white). Traditionally a crisp, dry white wine, New Zealand sauvignon blancs are now internationally renowned as some of the best in the world.
First planted in Marlborough in 1975, sauvignon blanc has become New Zealand's most planted variety, winning worldwide accolades. We have two main sauvignon blanc regions: Marlborough, with its incredible soils, climate, sunny days and lower rainfall, is especially renowned for its shiny, citrus-led varietals; while Hawke's Bay and north to Auckland produces a slightly riper tropical flavours than cooler Marlborough. Pungently aromatic, New Zealand sauvignons are bursting with capsicum and gooseberry characters, luxuriant passionfruit and tropical fruits.
The heart of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, Marlborough sauvignon blancs are always vibrant and distinctive, with notable citrus notes and tropical flavours. Usually tending towards the dry side (although some do head a little way towards sweet), a Marlborough sauvignon blanc is always a good place to start if you're after something very typical of the variety.
Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc is a good example of a typical Marlborough sauv in the under $20 category. A juicy core of citrus with crunchy greens and guava on the nose, it's perfect with seafood. Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc is full of intense fruit flavours, tasting sweet and ripe - a good one to rock out with a cheese board, or a chicken dish.
In the over $20 category, there are some absolute jewels to be found in the Marlborough crown. For a more mineral finish, Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc is medium-bodied and holds its own with gorgeous flavours; Giesen's The August is a real 'occasion' sauvignon blanc. Made from fruit taken from two iconic Giesen vineyards, this is a wine with rich, ripe tropical notes, steely, wet pabble aromas and herbal notes. The result is a wine with a tropical nose, featuring passionfruit and lime leaves. It's multi-dimensional and layered, with toasty almonds, fresh brioche and incredible flinty notes.
For a full, fruit-salad wine with lots of depth and flavour, you can't go wrong with a Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc. Jules is a firm believer that you pair the wine you like with the food you like - and this is a perfect example of a sauvignon blanc that can be taken anywhere.
Expect riper, fruitier styles from this warmer climate - think stonefruits and nectarines. There's a growing trend in partial barrel fermenting and oak ageing, which develops more complex aromatics like elderflower and basil, as well as smoky, biscuity notes. Oak makes sauvignon blanc's notorious acidity a little more subtle, creating a softer, rounder mouthfeel.
Hawke's Bay is New Zealand's oldest wine region, and their sauvignon blancs are very fruit-forward; in good Hawke's Bay examples you'll find aromas of guava, kaffir lime and passionfruit, pineapple, grapefruit, gooseberry and crushed herbs. Church Road Sauvignon Blanc is rich and soft, with pink grapefruit, passionfruit, elderflower and gentle herbal notes. Te Awanga Estate Sauvignon Blanc is another fine example; rich and mouth-filling with passionfruit and grapefruit and a lovely chalkiness.
Whatever your flavour, make sure you pick up a bottle of sauvignon blanc this Friday and raise a glass to International Sauvignon Blanc Day. Cheers!