New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has evolved like a pitcher learning to throw with multiple tricks up the sleeve. When I first interviewed for my current position with an international wine distributor, the sales manager inquired about common flavor characteristics of Kiwi SB as a preliminary screening. The most obvious answer which enhanced my hiring potential was the following: grassy grapefruit bomb. I’m not sure about the majority of the population, but the reference to this highly citric and tart fruit always makes my cheeks pucker a bit. In reality, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs have and are expressing their potential for much more complexity in the glass.
One of my favorite producers to date is Barkers Marque at the foot of the Awatere Valley in Marlborough. A perfect region for growth, these grapes experience forceful winds keeping pests away, little rainfall helping to stress vines and fully develop, a coastal position helping to maintain moderate temperatures, and clay soil giving a crisp minerality similar to whites of the famed Sancerre in France.
These folks solely focus on the Sauvignon Blanc varietal and express it in three different ways, each with a completely different personality. Ranga Ranga, the fast ball, delivers the herbaceous and mineral component that most people seek in a New Zealand style. Their Arona version, a true change up, differs from most wines you’ll find from this region. 12% Riesling is added to help soften the acidity and also contributes tropical notes that enhance this wine’s ability to stand as a tride and true crowd pleaser for all. 3 Brooms, their curve ball, is produced from a single vineyard site. Initially, the aroma delivers similar to what any consumer might expect from NZ; however, with each sip an elegance rounds out the acidity and lifts the citrus from sour tart to a lemon sorbet finesse.
With warmer weather here to stay, I’ve had many friends ask for crisp white wine recommendations. With out a doubt I always refer them to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A terrific value with herbal notes similar to the fresh garden we all just planted. Dare I say your reaction will be similar to a batter knocking a homer out of the park? Any pitch will do, I can assure you that. Cheers!
Food pairing: Shrimp Pad Thai