New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 101

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 101

sauvignon_blanc_main_image_400x300_400When most people think of New Zealand wine, one variety of grape rises to the top of their minds: sauvignon blanc. In 1973, Brancott Estate (formerly known as Montana) planted the very first sauvignon blanc vines in Marlborough, which today is the country’s most famous region for the grape. But, it wasn’t until 2002 that sauvignon blanc surpassed chardonnay as New Zealand’s most planted variety.

Marlborough, located at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, produces the country’s most classic expression of sauvignon blanc. The wines exhibit electrifyingly crisp acidity and explode with a medley of green flavors. Here are three of our favorites:

VILLA MARIA “Private Bin” Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $13
CLOUDY BAY Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $30
SAINT CLAIR “Wairau Reserve” Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $26

But the action doesn’t stop with Marlborough. Today, you can find sauvignon blanc growing throughout New Zealand’s two islands. The wines reveal the extraordinary diversity of the country’s many wine regions. Here are three to look for beyond Marlborough:

CRAGGY RANGE “Te Muna Road” Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Martinborough, New Zealand) $20
TRINITY HILL Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand) $18
MT. BEAUTIFUL Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (North Canterbury, New Zealand) $17

While most New Zealand sauvignon blancs are fermented in stainless steel tanks to retain the wines’ aromatic freshness, some producers are experimenting with oak to create “reserve” wines. Purists may scoff at the practice, but some of these wines successfully offer a rounder alternative to the traditional style. Here are three we recommend:

SPY VALLEY “Envoy” Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $24
BRANCOTT ESTATE “Letter Series ‘B’” Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $27
GIESEN “The Fuder” Matthews Lane Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand $50

To learn more about sauvignon blanc from New Zealand and around the world, join us on Twitter for #SipWithKaren on May 21, 5-6pm PST/8-9pm EST.

Do you have a favorite New Zealand sauvignon blanc? Share it with us below!

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