Last summer I attended one in person training session of potential members of the US Wine Tasting Team in preparation for the World Blind Wine Tasting Championship. We were tasked to bring bottles of classic wines, wines with classic profiles, wines we suspected would show up in the contest (see the list of wines for the 2022 championship here as well as the list of winners and how various countries places. Bottles were placed in bags and separated between white and red. No one proctored them to see what the tasting order should be; it was basically random. And yet, what wines did we bring? Which wines were opened? Well, when it came to white wines, a majority of them were Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, and over and over again, most of us named them correctly, because NZ SB has a very classic profile, and most of that classic NZ SB comes from the Marlborough region. No wonder: Marlborough is also NZ’s largest and most prolific wine region.
Located in the northern most part of South Island, this is where wine got its start in New Zealand. A combination of soils and climate makes it ideal for growing conditions and these conditions also make it possible to grow great grapes without a lot of chemicals. For example, learn about Loveblock wines here, and which we wrote about here.
Learn more about visiting Marlborough’s wine region here.
New Zealand’s most awarded winery, Villa Maria, offers Sauvignon Blanc wines from Marlborough, including a new line of organic wines, but growing organically is nothing new. They began converting 200 acres in Hawkes Bay to organics in 1999, and In 2007 Villa Maria achieved the internationally recognised BioGro Organic Certification for a 21 hectare block in Hawkes Bay. In 2009, Villa Maria became the first major winery in New Zealand to gain BioGro certification which covers vineyards to cellar and everything in between.
Recently Sue Hill, John Walsh, and I tasted EarthGarden, the organic wine, and Private Bin, their flagship wine, paired with classic fare: raw oysters, Ceasar salad with anchovies, and fresh local squid sautéed in lots of garlic. Marlborough is also famous for seafood, so this menu ties in with this seafood region region. Scroll down for more ideas to pair with wines from Marlborough from Villa Maria and from other members of the World Wine Travel group of wine writers.
Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc
- “Private Bin” Sauvignon Blanc 2021
- Sauvignon Blanc 2021 “EarthGarden”
- Ceasar Salad with anchovies
- Sautéed Squid with garlic (recipe source)
2021 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc “EarthGarden,” Marlborough
Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc 2021 from EarthGarden, Villa Maria’s sustainable wine range. Here you can find more information about the winery’s sustainability practices.
Appearance: Pale, clear, lemon.
Aroma: Meadow grass and flowers including chamomile, lemon, after there is food on your palate there is a bit of vanilla on the nose.
Palate: Tart lemon, lemon lime, salinity, mouthwatering acidity, ruby grapefruit finish, not particularly complex, but pleasing and easy to drink.
Pairing: The intense flavors of the Cesar salad is enhanced by the wine. the dish is bright and flavorful with the wine. The wine remains tart and crisp. The wine brings out an apricot flavor when paired with oysters.
2021 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc “Private Bin,” Marlborough
Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc
Sample for my review
Villa Maria considers their Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (SRP: $16) the estate’s flagship wine. Fresh and vibrant with a blend of Marlborough vineyards, classic Awatere aromas initially greet you with lemongrass, jalapeño peppers and fresh herbs then the Wairau Valley’s a pungency of ripe citrus and tropical fruit flavors comes through
Appearance: Pale lemon, very clean, clear and bright.
Aroma: Classic New Zealand Sauv Blanc nose of gooseberry and grapefruit.
Palate: Gooseberry, tart, mouthwatering acidity, grapefruit and lime. Simple yet pleasing. This is a typical New Zealand Sauv Blanc on the palate.
Pairing: The wine loves garlic and lemon. The Cesar salad has a nice richness that tames this very tart wine. The lemon tartness becomes more like a lemon curd. A lovely honeydew melon quality is present when the wine follows an oyster.
Looking for more ideas for Villa Maria’s Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc for holiday meals and special occasions? How about these suggestions:
Classic NZ Sauvignon Blanc they say “pairs well with a Creamy Crab Bisque as its luscious texture and rich flavors complement the gentle acidity.”
Sushi also works so well with these wines! We enjoyed the rest of each wine with a simple California roll (but with real crab and avocado!) and with a salmon roll. Fun to compare the two wines with the two types of rolls! I even tried them dipped in eel sauce, and was surprised that it still worked.
Vegans in the house? They suggest pairing a classic NZ SB like the Private Bin with Vegan Lemon and Asparagus Risotto as the “fruity flavors perfectly contrast the herbal components in the Risotto, while still tying together through the citrus elements of the dish and the wine.”
For vegetarians, we love pesto on pasta but a pesto and rice stuffed portabella would also work well we bet.
For poultry lovers, “the wine’s citrus and herb undertones will suit the classic Thanksgiving roasted turkey and mashed potato pairing,” they say.
NZ SB is also excellent with chicken breasts wrapped around mushrooms and asparagus with plenty of fresh basil or nasturtium pesto; this is a favorite at our house, generally served with rice.
I wouldn’t think of a classic NZ SB for dessert, but they suggest “Coconut Key Lime Thumbprints made with white chocolate. Its subdued sweetness from the coconut and white chocolate and its light bitter notes from the key lime flavors perfectly complement the passionfruit, grapefruit, lime, and guava notes in the wine.”
Learn more about New Zealand’s Marlborough region plus find wines and pairings from these #WorldWineTravel group of wine writers:
Chinese Takeout with an Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc by Wendy Klik on A Day in the Life on the Farm
Marlborough’s Babich 2021 Sauvignon Blanc + Homemade Mandu and Kimchi Duk Guk by Culinary Cam
No twitter chat this week! And we will likely skip the chat next month too when #WorldWineTravel checks out South Island wine regions other than Marlborough.