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Tasting the Other Wines of New Zealand

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.

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