From its ancestral home in France’s Loire Valley, the grassy, acidic Sauvignon Blanc has proliferated throughout the world’s wine-growing regions. It is an exceptionally terroir-driven grape and its aromas and flavors vary depending on soil and climatic conditions. From the flint, limestone and chalk soils of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé come lean, earthy and mineral-driven Old World Sauvignon Blancs. In the New World, vintners can express bolder styles ripe with fresh fruit. New Zealand is, of course, a New World country and its Sauvignon Blancs are nothing short of spectacular.
New Zealand is an island nation located in southeast Australasia in the Tasmanian Sea. Its narrow land mass, bisected by a spine of mountain ranges, is split into the cooler, more mountainous South Island and the warmer, volcanic North Island, each with distinct microclimates and terroirs. The vineyards are planted near the coasts in well-drained soils with alluvial deposits of sandstone, clay, limestone and silt. The maritime climate brings abundant sun and ultraviolet light
by day followed by cool, breezy nights — perfect for producing slow-ripened grapes and wines vibrant with acidity and rich in fruit.
About three-quarters of the vineyards are planted with Sauvignon Blanc. Although winemaking in New Zealand dates back to the 1800s, this varietal was not grown commercially here until the early 1970s. The Marlborough Region on the northeastern edge of South Island — home to acclaimed wineries Kim Crawford and Cloudy Bay — has developed world-renowned wines with distinct aroma and flavor profiles.
A landscape of vast plains, rolling hills and snow-capped mountains sits on soils ranging from rocky riverbed gravel to alluvial silt and clay. Sunny days and cool nights produce aromatically pungent Sauvignon Blancs fresh with zingy acidity and packed with the flavors of lush tropical fruits, grapefruit and lime mixed with herbaceous and green notes, grassiness, and gooseberry. North Island wines are riper and more fruit-forward, while those from the southern island
are acidic and crisp.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are meant to be consumed young and do not benefit from long-term cellaring.
EXPERT WINE RECOMMENDATIONS
• JENNIE MAZUREK
Whole Foods 2607 W. 75th St., Naperville. (630 579-7700)
-2017 Kim Crawford Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc (NZ) $25. An aromatic nose of fruits, citrus and white flowers shows on the palate as well, along with notes of gooseberry, and grassiness. Crisp acidity abounds with a lingering finish of minerality and citrus.
-2017 Elk Cove Pinot Gris (Ore.) $20. Dry and crisp, this luscious Willamette Valley Pinot Gris zings with flavors of green apples, pears, peaches, guava, pineapples and lemon-lime, integrated with vibrant acidity and a touch of minerals.
• VICTORIA PETERSON Peterson Spirits & Fine Wines 88 W. Gartner Rd., Naperville. (630 527-1501)
-2017 Omaka Springs Sauvignon Blanc (NZ) $17. Pale straw in the glass with a rich palate of tropical fruits, citrus and gooseberry along with herbaceous notes, minerality and brisk acidity.
-2017 Mirabeau Pure Provence Rosé (France) $26. Berries dominate a delicate yet powerful rosé, with flavors of cherries and melons, underscored by citrus, grapefruit, stone fruits, white flowers and lychee for mouthwatering acidity.
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