Tasting New Zealand
September 1, 2014
by Lyn Farmer
Say “New Zealand” to most wine lovers and almost invariably, the association will be Sauvignon Blanc. There is a good reason for this – Marlborough produces 70% of New Zealand’s wine and 80% of the regions wines are Sauvignon Blanc. But there is much more to New Zealand wine than the wave of citrus and herb-tinged white wine so popular in markets around the world.
A few weeks ago, the trade group Wines of New Zealand offered a master class to showcase the depth and breadth of the New Zealand wine experience led by David Strada and Will Costello MS, head sommelier at the Ritz-Carlton Las Vegas (who had just returned from a week in New Zealand). This entailed tasting groups of four wines, with each group highlighting a different variety and region. Here are my notes, including as asterisk (*) noting those wines I think are particularly exciting, wines that meet my “special criteria” – I would pay my own money to purchase them.
Greywacke 2012 Wild Sauvignon (Marlborough)*
Greywacke makes two Sauvignon Blancs – this one is barrel-fermented and produced with natural (wild) yeast, hence the “Wild Sauvignon” name. It is a decidedly atypical style with meatiness some will like (I love it) and others may abhor. It has plenty of minerality but moderates the overt citrus peel character many seek in a New Zealand Sauvignon. There is some minty quality, crisp fruit and lots of stoniness – to me, its reminiscent of a Daganeau Pouilly Fumé from the Loire (at a third of the price). I love it but expect few would peg this as a New Zealand wine in a blind.