New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - A short term trend or the rise of an icon?
It is at this time of the year that we can drink Sauvignon Blanc by the bucket load. It has become the ultimate summer drink and there is one specific country (in fact one region!) which has taken the lead, and remained in pole position for decades.
Kiwi Sauvignons are indisputably famous. That alluring composition of tropical fruits, citrus and sour fruits, such as gooseberry or green apple - No wonder it has won our hearts, being such a great alternative to fuller and heavier chardonnays or to an overly abundant viognier.
Specifically, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has become an icon in its own right. In fact, Marlborough encompasses nearly 90% of New Zealand’s plantings and at the same time Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 63% of national plantings. You could say that all of this happened over the last 40 years and it is thanks to the founders of Cloudy Bay, who triggered the worldwide buzz and boosted local winemaking.
Celebrating their 30th anniversary last year, it is astonishing to look back all those years and see the straight road to success. Greeted with huge approval, everyone started planting Sauvignon Blanc and took advantage of the enormous demand for it. Easy to farm and offering a quick investment turnover, as the wine requires little maturation and can be quickly bottled and sold to the market – this is definitely a favourite not only for consumers, but for producers too.
This however, can lead to a dangerous situation where overloaded by the amount of choice when looking to buy a classic Sauvignon Blanc, you end up trying one bottle after another and they all taste like a diluted gooseberry juice. Although sometimes this can stand for what we need – something light and quaffable – but why waste time for wine that just doesn’t excite?
That’s why we encourage you to go back to basics. There are many brilliant producers in New Zealand still producing the very best Sauvignon Blanc that continue to wow the whole world. In fact, even the founders and winemakers of the old Cloudy Bay (before it was purchased and taken over by LVMH back in 2003) continue their legacy and produce outstanding wines under different labels.
Take a look at Greywacke – Kevin Judd registered the name in 1993, whilst working as a chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay. He produces great wines under this name until this day – not only a racy Sauvignon Blanc, but also a great Late Harvest Riesling.
Dog Point being another example. From Ivan Sutherland and James Healy (ex-Cloudy Bay viticulturist and oenologist), their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir personify a real benchmark in outstanding winemaking in Marlborough.