Sauvignon Blancs Breaking the Rules
“Whip-cracking acidity, tongue-tingling, citrusy-herby flavours, and pungent aromas give New Zealand sauvignon blancs a punchy, kick-boxing appeal,” Elin McCoy writes for Bloomberg. “Adventurous New Zealand winemakers are now lifting the category to a new dimension of quality, creating more serious (and more expensive) examples in a variety of styles.
“In 2016, exports of the country’s wines to the US were up 24 per cent, yet another year of double-digit growth, according to the New Zealand Winegrowers Annual Report. We’re gulping those wines down as fast as they can ship them.
“And luckily, though an earthquake last November wrecked enough wine to fill about five million bottles, 2016 was a record year.
“The new wave wines aim for greatness.
“Marlborough, known for its cool, acid-enhancing maritime climate and long sunny growing season with no heat waves, remains the grape’s epicentre. When I surveyed the vineyards from a helicopter a few years ago, green vines seemed to cover every square inch. The top vintners started focusing on sub-regions. Awatare Valley, for example, produces dramatic wines with earthy, savoury, mineral notes, while the Wairau Valley cuvées are more about grapefruity, passion fruit flavours.
“As I zoomed from vineyard to vineyard on a motorcycle the first time I travelled to Waiheke Island, I started fantasising about moving there. Today, wine tourism is booming as wineries add restaurants and experiences. Cloudy Bay now offers custom sailing trips on the Marlborough Sounds, with plenty of posh sauvignon blanc on board (starting at US$2,000).
“Trading up is a global phenomenon, but will people pay US$25 and more when they’ve been buying bottles for US$10? I hope so. The higher-priced wines are a steal. If the cheapies are for knocking back at the end of the day, the more expensive ones, with greater concentration, are for serving in a glass, with food, on a yacht.”
McCoy’s recommendations include: Waiheke’s 2012 Man O’War Gravestone Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Marlborough’s 2012 Giesen the August 1888 Sauvignon Blanc and Martinborough’s 2015 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard.
Original article by Elin McCoy, Bloomberg, January 31, 2017.