Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand has been producing the best Sauvignon Blanc since the 1970s. Once an unknown in the wine world, for the past 20 plus years it has taken the wine world by storm. Robert Mondavi did a great job with his Fume Blanc and the French certainly do a good job. But it is in New Zealand that this forgotten grape has made its mark. I started drinking Sauvignon Blanc just a few years ago. If memory serves me I was on the prowl for an interesting white to go with a summer dinner party Mary and I were planning. I picked up a Goldwater New Dog, probably a 2004 or 05 vintage. Mary and I were, as we used to say, blown away. It had a strongly lush nose and lime front with a long delicious finish. It was minerally and nicely textured with a rather full body for a white wine.

The second Sauvignon Blanc we've been tasting is Coopers Creek. It's full of grapefruit and nectarine that's in your face. It has great balance, is refreshing with a long lush finish. Coopers Creek is a classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I have found it to be especially good in the warm months of Summer. It's brisk, fresh acidity is uplifting on those long hot days. We have added Villa Maria, Kim Crawford and others to our repertoire. These Sauvignon Blancs make wine tasing exciting. They can be brash and in your face. I am rarely so excited when drinking wine as I am with a New Zealand SB. It is a unique wine tasting experience to savor a fresh, crisp Sauvignon Blanc via New Zealand.

Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with food. It can go with poultry, fish, dips, vegetable dishes, etc. Please try this exciting and bold white wine.


Anonymous said...

I, too, have enjoyed SB wines from New Zealand. They may be the most reliable wines of this varietal and generally provide very good value for the money. I don't agree, however, that New Zealand is the source of the best SB wines. To my taste, its wines do not quite reach the heights attained by the best Poilly Fume wines from the late Didier Dagueneau, various wines from some of the top producers of Sancerre or the Rochioli family's California SB. In a blind tasting of SB wines from around the world that I attended a few years ago, two of the three New Zealand wines (Brancott Estate "B" and Cloudy Bay) showed very well. though I did not rate them as highly as the Rochioli or, in a completely different style, the white Graves, Ch. Smith Haut Laffite. These ratings undoubtedly reflect my preferences for certain qualities and styles of wine. But this is an inescapable characteristic of tasting and judging wine.


Robert M. Oliva, ND, LMSW, MA said...

Now we're cooking. This is a great comment, Eric. I must admit I'm not as familiar with the French SB as that of New Zealand. The SBs that I mention in my post may be a tad zestier and memorable than those you blind tasted. However, I am taken by your defense of the French varietal and will explore them more deeply. What do you look for in a good SB and of those you have tasted, which would you most recommend?


Anonymous said...

That's a good question, Bob. I look for fruit, a quality that most New Zealand SBs have in abundance. I also look for complexity and depth. At the tasting I mentioned in the posting, I initially thought the Brancott SB was outstanding because of its wonderful fruit. But after comparing it with the Rochioli, I thought it lacked some complexity and was not as serious a wine. The Brancott did not develop in the glass as well as the Rochioli.

Besides the wines I mentioned in the posting, I've had impressive wines from the following producers of Sancerre: F.Cotat,Pinard, E. Vatan, Thomas-Labaille, Vacheron, Jolivet, and Crochet. One unfortunate feature of Sancerre wines, as compared with most of today's new world SBs is that they are sometimes marred by odd tastes or smells. I've often wondered if this is the result of bad storage or shipping, or due to primitive bottling techniques.