WINES OF NEW ZEALAND
We have been winding our way around the globe virtually on a wine tour this last year. This month we land in another world, that of New Zealand, on the bottom of the globe, famous for their Sauvignon Blanc for the white wines, and Pinot Noir for the reds.
New Zealanders have been known as “Kiwis” since World War I when Australian soldiers referred to the natives as “Kiwis”. The word is derived from a native, flightless bird, called the Kiwi, and is not considered offensive. The only link between kiwi and wine is there could possibly be a slight flavor of the kiwi fruit in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc- along with grapefruit and grass! The first Sauvignon Blanc was planted in the early 1970’s and grew prolifically in the Marlborough region, which has become the most famous area for grape growing there. While New Zealand wine roots can be traced back to the Colonial era, it’s major export popularity has only recently grown- with an increase of almost 20% in the last 20 years. In the late 1850’s French missionaries established vineyards in the region of Hawkes Bay. The Central Otago area is known for growing exceptional Pinot Noir grapes. By the mid 1980’s New Zealand had garnered national attention of its Sauvignon Blanc on the world wine stage, when wine critic Oz Clark famously wrote that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was “arguably the best in the world”. With that press, Sauvignon Blanc vineyards take up over 60% of viticulture grown in New Zealand, with several areas known as GI or “Geographical Indication” similar to a protected area in the European Union. Northland, Auckland, Kumea, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Nelson, Marlborough and Canterbury are most notable.
In today’s world of supply chain issues, as well as severe weather in the recent growing season, there is going to be a shortage of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The last two seasons saw weather conditions with wet springs, so the plants had less flowering and therefore less overall grape production. Couple that with cargo ships delayed at international ports, and we are going to see price increases and fast product depletions. Let’s see what we have currently on our shelves and what you could stock up with on the current vintage. Drink up!
Sheep Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ
This special bottling was vinted specifically for Monsieur Touton Wines, which is distributed in 11 states. The grapes are hand selected and the wine rests before bottling and shipping. Flavors of lemon, lime and green apple, this wine has vibrant fruit flavor with balanced acidity. I give it three bones.
Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ
Frenzy is made by Paua Bay wines and comes from some of the best sourced fruit in the region. Hints of peach, grapefruit, lime and melon, with a touch of cut grass. 2020 was a “classic vintage”. I give it 3 bones.
Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ
A large international drink company just recently purchased Villa Maria’s vineyards and winery, including properties in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, and Marlborough. The previous owners ran the winery from 1961, and created a well- known, popular brand. This Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from vineyards predominantly in Marlborough with aromas of gooseberry and passionfruit. Fresh herbal notes and hints of cut grass and grapefruit on the palate. I give it two bones.
The Little Sheep Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ
Another group of vintners who carefully select grapes for natural and gentle pressing; aromas of ripe peach and citrus follow up with flavors of grapefruit and a hint of lemon. I give it two bones.
The unique terroir that shows in these wines will not disappoint. Remember 2020 was considered “classic” and 2021 will be in extremely short supply. Stop by, or call in and we will package up your order for curb side pick-up. Cheers, and Happy New Year!
By Brunello Giancola as told to CRBrown