2 NZ SBs from Marlborough for Sauvignon Blanc Day

Happy Sauvignon Blanc Day 2017 #1!

As an established wine writer and blogger (since 2008!), I get sent pitches daily about various wines, and often, somewhere near the bottom,  these pitches include offers of samples of wine, which I tend to say yes to because, as you may have guessed, I am fond of wine, and I like learning about wine, trying wine with food, and then writing about what I learn.

And because I like celebrating the various “wine days” like last Monday’s Malbec World Day, or December’s Cabernet Franc Day, and more, and because the wine industry likes celebrating them too, for the past few years, I’ve been pitched for International Sauvignon Blanc Day many times but what is confusing is that in the same year, I can get pitches for two dates: April 24 and May 5!

For example, on April 24, Flora Springs invites us to the “seventh annual global online celebration for one of our favorite varietals, Sauvignon Blanc.”  They will be celebrating with their proprietary clone called “Soliloquy” which UC Davis certified in the 1980s with folks who ordered the 2015 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and/or the 2015 Soliloquy Oakville Sauvignon Blanc in advance. They’re hosting a contest on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #SauvBlanc with a mention of @florasprings in tweets or posts. Winners will receive a Flora Springs prize pack sans wine.

For this first round of Sauvignon Blanc Day, we have two Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand: Loveblock’s from Otago (SRP $22) and  The Darling 2016 from Marlborough. For SB Day #2, we have ambitious plans to do a round the world blind tasting of sauvignon blanc from five continents! (See the list of wines below).

In general, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines have an interesting floral quality, as well as a unique minerality, that make them distinct. Winemakers tend to go for a more “pure” aesthetic — meaning little or no oak and little intervention– and the fruit does not seem like it has been over-manipulated.

Loveblock – Marlborough – Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – 13.7% alc SRP $22

In early March, Sue and I had the opportunity to have lunch at Wolf on Melrose in LA with Erica Crawford, who, with her husband Kim, founded Kim Crawford wine. Read more about our experience at Wolf with Loveblock here. After selling the brand to Constellation, Erica and Kim focused on growing grapes in as sustainably as possible, in a small enough production that they can really listen and learn from the land.  While they are passionate about pinot noir, they found the land really responds to Sauvignon Blanc, so they have planted more Sauvignon Blanc. And we should all be grateful because this is a lovely, nuanced, restrained Sauvignon Blanc.

The chef at Wolf raves about this wine which is on their very small, very carefully curated wine list: “I love the way this wine lends itself to food, ” he said which is why it is the only sauvignon blanc on his list.

Unlike many sauvignon blanc wines, the nose does not jump out of the glass: honey, honeysuckle, and stone fruit waft our way along with fresh green grass and minerals. In color, it is almost clear with glints of golden sunlight and green grass.

On the palate, we found smooth, silky wine offering sulphur, citrus, white peach, and saline with a mellow, lingering finish that was distinctly not bitter. Full of subtle complexity. And indeed a marvelous wine for food.

The Darling – Marlborough – Sauvignon Blanc – 2016 – 13.5% alcohol $23

Recently, I was invited to a gathering at the official residence of the New Zealand consulate located in Brentwood right down the street from an infamous event that may or may not have involved OJ Simpson. I thought I was attending a New Zealand wine seminar, but it turned out it was a party for ex-pats, neighbors, friends, family, and NZ fans to celebrate a new kind of wine club, Navigator,  a group of well crafted wines that show off the beauty of New Zealand Wines, and curated by Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas. This importer is encouraging people to join their wine club so they can import directly to the customer and cut out the middle so that the buyer gets a higher quality wine at a great price. After the event, I headed home with a box of open bottles for Sue and I to sample with more leisure and a laptop open to take notes! We found that all of these New Zealand wines have such memorable characteristics and that some can be enjoyed with or without food, while others shine with the food they are paired with. More details on these wines soon!

Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas curates the NZ Navigator selections.

When we walked in, we got bubbly. But this was the first wine that we were all poured, and it really is a great wine. There is something so weird and wonderful about this wine, said Sue. “I find this wine to be far more complex than many wines that I usually experience because there are so many complex flavor profiles that are prevalent in this wine.”

We thought it has a pretty classy label, with a screw top making it easy to access. Such a different nose: gooseberry, petrol, funk, which diminishes after it has had a chance to breathe. Sulphur, green, spicy, green peppers, cilantro.

Such an awakening on the palette with so much going on! Sulfur and gooseberry, and vegetal, jalapeño, cilantro?

After having been opened for just a bit, there comes forth a kind of tart cherry cream profile and fresh pineapple mango salsa.

This wine likes to stay in the land of savory, it likes lemon and citrus, it went beautifully with our herb and garlic goat cheese. This wine is like nothing that Sue has ever tasted in any other regions. She really liked it but we struggled with how to describe it.

So wonderful and so different.

“I could drink and think about the complexities of this wine forever,” said Sue. “It is so different and interesting.”

As you can see, even these two similarly priced and from the same area in New Zealand can be wildly different expressions of the same grape!

While we enjoyed both wines, I definitely preferred and loved the Loveblock while Sue was clearly fascinated by the Darling.

Pick up two or more Sauvignon Blancs and host your own comparison!

Are you a fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? Do you have a favorite region of the world for Sauvignon Blanc? Stay tuned for Sauvignon Blanc Day #2 May 5 when we will do a blind tasting that will include 6 or more of the following 10 wines:

  • Africa: South Africa– Nederburg 2016 SRP $13
  • Europe: France — Chateau de Sancerre Blanc 2015  SRP $33
  • Oceania: New Zealand Otago Lovelock 2016 SRP $22
  • Oceania: New Zealand Marborough O:TU 2015
  • Oceania: New Zealand Hawke’s Bay Osawa 2015
  • No America: Idaho Snake River Valley Cinder 2014
  • No America: CA Napa Markham 2015 SRP $19
  • No America: CA Sonoma HANNA 2016 SRP $20
  • No America: CA Ventura Clos De Ami SRP $22
  • So America: Chile Lapostolle 2015 SRP $14

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