New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Outside the Box

“Perhaps no other wine style is as instantly recognisable as New Zealand sauvignon blanc,” Christina Pickard writes for Wine Enthusiast magazine. “It put New Zealand wine on the map in all its brash, aromatic and crisply-acidic glory. Today, it’s one of America’s most popular sippers, renowned for consistency and affordability.”

“But what makes New Zealand sauvignon blanc so renowned is the same thing that also rouses criticism: its predictability. The style can become boring to some wine aficionados,” Pickard writes.

“‘Sauvignon blanc is a bit like an orphan,’ says Damien Yvon, general manager-winemaker at boutique Marlborough winery Clos Henri. ‘It doesn’t get much love.’

“There are, however, plenty of sauvignon blanc producers who ride their own wave. If you’re looking to drink more adventurously, you’re in luck. There’s never been a more exciting time in wine history for New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

“There are plenty of producers taking unconventional approaches. They farm sensitively, and focus on texture and terroir through minimal manipulation in the winery.

Te Whare Ra boasts some of the oldest vines in Marlborough. They were planted in 1979 on phylloxera-tolerant rootstock, which was unusual for the time. Ever since Anna and Jason Flowerday purchased the property in 2003, they have strived to restore the health of the long-neglected vines through biodynamic and organic farming techniques.

“At the bottom of the North Island, in the primarily pinot noir-producing region of Martinborough, you’ll find winemaker Lance Redgwell of Cambridge Road. Redgwell is part of a younger generation of winemakers that employ biodynamic vineyard practices and strive for minimal intervention in the winery.

“While he makes a range of more conventionally styled wines, the 2016 Down the Rabbit Hole is a delicious deviation from the norm. It’s macerated on its own skins for 26 days, left in neutral oak for 10 months and bottled without sulfur or any other additions. It’s closer in style to the orange wines of northeast Italy than to the other sauvignon blancs of New Zealand.

“You can’t deny the comfort of something recognisable. But sometimes it pays to enjoy something outside of box, even in territory as well-trodden as New Zealand sauvignon blanc.”

Original article by Christina Pickard, Wine Enthusiast, February 15, 2018.

Tags: 2016 Down the Rabbit Hole  Anna and Jason Flowerday  Cambridge Road  Clos Henri Vineyard  Damien Yvon  Lance Redgwell  Sauvignon Blanc  Te Whare Ra  Wine Enthusiast  

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