The Best of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

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There’s no mistaking the pungency and immediacy of Sauvignon Blanc. With its bold, direct flavors, generally unimpeded by oak, the variety—especially as expressed in New Zealand—has claimed legions of fans over the past 20 years.

Now, American sales of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are booming, up by double digits in each of the past three years, compared to modest single-digit growth in overall wine consumption. Powered by new releases from the highly regarded 2013 vintage, expect that trend to continue this year.

In Marlborough, where most of New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc is grown, the summer of 2012–13 was ideal. Conditions were warm and dry leading up to the harvest period, which was punctuated by only three small rain events, none of which had any ill effects on the vintage.

In October, I took a first look at the young 2013 Sauvignon Blancs while serving as a judge at the Marlborough Wine Show, followed by visits to a number of wineries over three subsequent days. Many of the wines impressed for their generosity and varietal expression.

Back stateside, my tastings of the 2013s confirm that the vintage was excellent. Of the 74 wines reviewed for this report, 25 scored 90 points or more—a remarkable success rate. And thanks to the mild weather and technical acumen of Kiwi winemakers, very few of the wines scored poorly. In short, 2013 has produced a number of top Sauvignon Blancs, many of which are pleasantly affordable. 

Joe Czerwinski, Photos by Meg Baggott

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The Best of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

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