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I Heart Grass (Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs)

February 23, 2009

Someone recently mentioned to me that drinking Sauvignon Blanc in the winter is like wearing white after labor day.  To that I say – this is California and haven’t you heard of winter white?!?  While the apples and oak of a chardonnay might be more fitting of the season, I am still obsessing over New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, and have been for awhile now.  I love the zingy acidicty on the sides of the toungue dancing around.  I love the melon and grapefruit aromas.  But most of all, I HEART GRASS!  Just a few recent tasting notes from this category:

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Marlborough ($14.99)

Explosive nose of melon, grass and bit of jalapeno. Very zesty, fruit forward with a lot of acidity. I would like to see just a tad more lime to balance the grass, but this is a classic Marlborough SB – and, as it has been growing in popularity, you can find it very easily!  You pay a $2-3 premium for the name, but since the category is already very inexpensive, I won’t complain.

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Marlborough ($11.99)

Another very pungent, complex nose. This wine is very herbaceous, with flavors of grass, fresh herbs and bell peppers. The combination of melons, minerals and herbs are the very reason I love this category. Not quite as acidic as the Kim Crawford, and perhaps a tad too vegetal for some, but for my palate this is will be placed in regular rotation.  Of all, this is my favorite and has great QPR!

Drylands Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Marlborough ($12.99)

Another great nose, this wine was pure grapefruit and fresh cut grass. On the palate, tropical fruit came through with a hint of lime on the back-end. Lots of good acidity makes this a great pairing with any food, but I could imagine a simple grilled white fish with a little olive oil and lemon would match perfectly.  This might be the best choice for a larger group with different palates – a definite crowd pleaser.

Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Marlborough ($9.99)
This tasted like your typical kiwi SB with well-balanced aromas of grapefruit, minerals, and cut grass – but its as if someone turned the volume down. The nose was barely there, the taste was far from explosive, and the acidity lightly tickled instead of zinged. From the label that brought SB to New Zealand, I was very disappointed. Not a bad effort, just boring.

Palliser Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Martinborough ($14.99)
This was not your typical kiwi SB like the ones that came before it. Instead it had more mineral than grass, and highlighted apricots and white peaches. There were some tropical notes and a little acidic tickle, but the wine itself was not very expressive and it felt muted like the Brancott. Another sleeper (one that was definitely not worth the money).

Cloudy Bay

I would be remiss not to mention Cloudy Bay. While Brancott really introduced Sauvignon Blanc to New Zealand, Cloudy Bay is famous for popularizing it. Perhaps the most famous of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, I unfortunately haven’t tasted it in over a year so I can’t offer tasting notes on it.  I am keeping my eyes peeled for it so I can taste it again soon!

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