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New Zealand’s star is sauvignon blanc

New Zealand’s star is sauvignon blanc

New Zealand’s rise to wine fame can be traced to a single grape variety, sauvignon blanc, a phenomenal circumstance if you consider many of the commercial plantings are barely 30 years old. Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to retaste a few of my favorites.

The rise of New Zealand white wines’ popularity coincided with the world’s demand for fresher and lighter styles. Those familiar only with the over-oaked, heavy whites in many wine regions welcomed the refreshing unoaked, cool-climate style of this country’s wine. Today there are many more offerings than sauvignon blanc. This list now includes chardonnay, gewurztraminer, pinot gris and Riesling.

The terroir of New Zealand’s vineyards produces excellent white wines with fresh, zippy acidity but it’s also prized for a rich red wine with complex flavors, the pinot noir grape. It is one of the world’s most exciting hot spots for the pinot noir devotee. This grape is finicky and doesn’t adapt well when grown outside of Burgundy but New Zealand produces quality wines from pinot noir vintage after vintage. New Zealand’s restrained delicate pinot noirs offer a refreshing change from robust high alcohol pinot noirs produced elsewhere.

THE VALUES

  • 2014 Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $13 retail)
  • 2014 Mohua Riesling, New Zealand (about $14 retail)
  • 2015 Starborough Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $12 retail)
  • 2014 New Harbor Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $13 retail)
  • 2014 The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $14 retail)

THE SPLURGES

  • 2015 Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay, New Zealand (about $22 retail)
  • 2014 Wild Earth Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $26 retail)
  • 2014 Mt. Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $25 retail)
  • 2014 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $17 retail)
  • 2014 Oyster Bay Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $20 retail)
  • 2015 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $17 retail)
  • 2015 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $17 retail)
  • 2014 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $33 retail)
  • 2013 Brancott Pinot Noir, New Zealand (about $17 retail)
  • 2014 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $22 retail)