In Defense of the Soccer Mom’s Favorite Wine
Reliable, inexpensive New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the go-to wine for many Americans. Is it worthy? And are some even better than just upscale Pinot Grigio? Lettie Teague, wine columnist for The Wall Street Journal, went in search for the secrets to the success of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in the USA where, the amount of New Zealand wine shipped has more than doubled in just five years, from 2.5 million cases to over 5.5 million.
“Some wine drinkers are thrill seekers,” says Teague, “forever in search of the unpredictable or little known. Others seek something less surprising: a wine that is competently produced, attractively packaged and, above all, tastes reliably good. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc may be the unheralded superstar of this category. It is all of these things and even has to pass muster with a government board.
Teague’s friends choose Kiwi Sauvignon because they can drink it over and over without fear of tasting something wildly different, not to mention encountering a flaw. “My sister Arian seeks exactly the same experience each time she opens the wine that she drinks every night: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. What does she expect to find in the bottle? A wine that is non-taxing—i.e., pleasant and easy to drink. My friend Gabrielle likes New Zealand Sauvignon for these same reasons, and when she described it as “an upscale Pinot Grigio,” she meant it as a compliment. The wine drinks well with a wide range of food and is affordably priced, too. Although a few bottles cost over $25, most are under $15—and many are closer to $10. This is another reason it’s popular, and why Gabrielle also calls Kiwi Sauvignon “the favorite wine of soccer moms everywhere.”
These soccer moms buy much of their wine in grocery stores—and sales of Kiwi Sauvignon are up more than 25% over last year at all Kroger stores, according to spokesperson Keith Dailey. Shoppers also have plenty of choices, notes the WSJ. Mr. Dailey estimates each of his stores stocks 15 to 20 brands of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. These brands attract remarkably loyal buyers. “As much as my sister loves her Kim Crawford, my friends are equally partial to labels such as Matua, Oyster Bay and Spy Valley. Yet because I’ve heard them complain “all New Zealand Sauvignon tastes the same,” I’m convinced some of their loyalty has to do with label art which reinforces the notion of a wine that is cool and refreshing, and for drinkers who respond to words more than pictures, the back labels invariably include compelling descriptions such as “fresh” or “invigorating” or even the hyperbolic “as breathtaking as silver beaches.”
New Zealand’s producers (and their export board) have done a remarkably good job of providing a steady supply of good Sauvignon Blanc at very good prices, says Teague. “While just a handful of wines actually dazzled, there were few outright duds. And for oenophiles in search of reliable bottles, that’s probably enough.”
WSJ tasted five outstanding bottles of ‘old reliable’ New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
2014 Dashwood Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, $11
2014 Dog Point Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, $15
2014 Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, $20
2014 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, $16
2013 Jules Taylor Wines Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, $14
Original article by Lettie Teague, Wall St Journal, July 17, 2015