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New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

June 10, 2002 • WestAmerica Bank

In search of that appellation-defining varietal statement "cat's pee on a gooseberry bush" (according to Down Under wine writer Oz Clarke), we selected ten examples of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. While we found mine loads of minerals, bushels of citrus fruits and baskets of flowers, we found thankfully few gooseberry bushes desecrated by feline urine. This was a cheese and cracker event. A bargain wine was among the best examples and favorites.

Brand Varietal / "Type"
Appellation, Vineyard

TASTING NOTES: Color; aroma; flavor; body;
balance; finish. Alcohol. Varietal composition
(if known). Summary. ($ paid)

Wines are considered Equal Quality
Within Categories of Recommendation
(Listed Alphabetically by Brand)

consensus terms appear in bold
(negatives?, possible flaws? are in brackets)
* indicates a second or third party


Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc label.Kim Crawford
Sauvignon Blanc 2001 Marlborough

Clear, pale yellow color; closed at first, opened with warming to reveal complex, sweet, tropical fruit, lemon-lime, grass, tule, pepperoncini, floral, rose, vanilla cream, honey and faintly musty aromas; ripe, straightforward, clean, dry, citrus gumdrop, lemon, grapefruit, pear, anise-licorice, slightly grassy, faintly mineral flavors; medium body; snappy, crisp balance; medium-long finish is crisp, mouthwatering (aspartame?, artificial sweetener?). 12.5% alcohol. Nearly a textbook example of attractive, easy drinking, inoffensive Sauvignon Blanc. ($15) WEBSITE

Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc label.Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc

Clear, very pale green-gold color; big, complex, citrus, lemon, grapefruit, orange peel, nectarine, peach, gooseberry, herbs, green olive and acrid, aggressive, grassy, catbox aromas; clean, lively, pure, strong citrus fruit, lemon-lime, grapefruit, fresh mown grass, fennel and very bold, very minerally flavors (ammonia?); light body; sweet-tart, good balance (sour?); finishes crisp and clean, long and strong. 12% alcohol. "This IS Sauvignon Blanc," says Ron. "It's a party in a bottle," says Bob - bring the grilled pork loin with roasted garlic-cilantro-sage pesto, grilled asparagus spears and grilled fennel bulb slices! ($10) BEST BUY WEBSITE

Thornbury Sauvignon Blanc label.Thornbury Sauvignon Blanc 2001 Marlborough

Clear, pale yellow-green color; attractive, apricot jam, sweet lime, grapefruit, lees, spice, litchi nut, floral, flint, fresh herb, grass and hay aromas with a little earth, mild catbox and matchstick (SO2?); sappy fruit, lemon-lime, pepper, grass and mineral flavors; good mouthfeel, lush, medium-full body; good balance, slightly tart; somewhat lingering, mineral, mouthwatering finish. 13% alcohol. Very agreeable, distinctive, simple, easy, balanced, enjoyable wine. ($16) WEBSITE


Forefathers Sauvignon Blanc label.Forefathers
Sauvignon Blanc 2000 Marlborough

Clear, pale straw color; light fruit, citrus, lemon, peach, honey, grass, catbox, flint, earth and barnyard aromas (H2S?); light, ripe fruit, citrus, grass, hay, mineral and old, musty flavors; good mouthfeel, medium to full body; good balance, slightly tart; lingering, but light and delicate finish. 13% alcohol. This wine saw no oak and no malolactic. Somewhat controversial with some tasters finding flaws, others enjoying a lighter style, pleasant and balanced wine. ($16) WEBSITE n/a

Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Blanc label.Pegasus Bay
Sauvignon Blanc 2000 Waipara

Clear, light to medium yellow color; complex, overripe fruit and barrel-fermented, leesy, malolactic aroma with mint, earth, petroleum, burnt sugar, toast and sweet oak (SO2?); citrus, lemon, peach, pineapple and yeasty, minerally, earthy, toasty-oaky, deep flavors; rich, full body; good balance, crisp, slightly tart; faint heat and oak tannin (metallic?) in finish. 13% alcohol. Varietal composition: 76% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Semillon. Quite pleasant to drink, but highly stylized, to the point of varietal impotence in the aromas. ($18) WEBSITE

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc label.Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Marlborough, "Johnson Estate Limited"

Clear, pale yellow color; vanilla, lemon, grass, herb, bell pepper, and matchstick aromas (rubber tire?, SO2?); ripe, slightly sweet, fruit, melon, "Granny Smith" apple, honey, mineral, slight oak and vegetal flavors; body; good balance, slightly tart; long, pleasant finish. 14% alcohol. Except for the obvious presence of SO2, this is quite an enjoyable wine, made in an agreeable style. The sulfur smell dissipated with considerable airing, indicating that the level will very probably drop in the next few months and making this wine more accessible than it is right now. ($12) WEBSITE


Giesen Sauvignon Blanc label.Giesen Sauvignon Blanc

Limpid, very pale, almost colorless; clean, very light, fruit, nectarine, plum, with grass and predominant gunflint, slate and mineral aromas; light, fairly pleasant, almost neutral,citrus, peach and grass, with more mineral than any other flavors; light body; balance is brisk, crisp and tart (excessive?); finish is long, clean, dry and tart. 13% alcohol. Fairly innocuous, wispy aromas and flavors are clean, but very tart and acidic. This might be a good choice to match with raw oysters. ($11) WEBSITE

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc label.Villa Maria
Sauvignon Blanc "Private Bin"
Marlborough, "Hawke's Bay"

Clear, light gold color; cooked fruit, applesauce, grapefruit, herbal, hay, grass, vegetal, green olive, green peppercorn, cucumber, earth, oak, wet cardboard and turpene aromas (spoilage?, faintly oxidized?); melon, grapefruit, lemon, mineral, herbal, vegetal and green olive flavors with a touch of must and maderization; body; fair balance, slightly sour, acidic; faint heat in medium-length finish. 13.5% alcohol. Requires near-term consumption and thorough chilling prior to. ($11) WEBSITE

Tuatara Bay Sauvignon Blanc label.Tuatara Bay Sauvignon Blanc 1999 Marlborough

Clear, pale green color; light, closed-in, vinous, grapefruit, pineapple, perfume, alcohol, bubblegum, spice, mint, anise and yeast aromas; light, simple, ripe tropical fruit, citrus (sweet, like "Tang"), lemon and green pepper flavors (volatile?); body; good balance, crisp, tart; mineral taste in finish, also a little heat. 12.5% alcohol. Another controversial wine. This time, the panel was split between an indifferent majority, who wasn't terribly excited one way or the other, and a vocal minority seriously offended by this wine's flaws. ($4) WEBSITE n/a


Zenith Sauvignon Blanc 2000 Marlborough

Clear, pale yellow-green color; unusual, grassy, old hay, gooseberry, lemon butter, buttered zucchini and musty, wet cardboard aromas (sour milk? filter pad?); heavy, green, grassy, piney, vegetative, pond water, barnyard, earthy, minerally flavors (oxidized?); body; very tart, sour balance; earthy, bumpy finish. 12.5% alcohol. Smells fairly intriguing and appealing, then tastes like something that was embalmed, should be flushed and certainly not swallowed. ($11) WEBSITE n/a

This Panel included Regulars Mark, Deanna, Glenn, Bob, Jon, Ray, Tammy, Jim L, and Jim V
 About New Zealand WineAbout Sauvignon Blanc

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