Why is the Marlborough wine region of New Zealand ideal for growing Sauvignon Blanc?
Marlborough, remarkable for its southern latitude as a wine region, is home to 88% of New Zealand’s vines and most of those vines are Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, 80% of all wine from New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc.
Marlborough’s southern latitudes contribute to cool winds and refreshing nights that allow Sauvignon Blanc to retain its crisp vibrant and refreshing acidity. Its Southern latitudes also mean extended sunlight hours in the summer months (December, January, February in the Southern Hemisphere) to allow proper ripening given these cool conditions. Not unlike Bordeaux, there is a strong maritime climate on the South Island keeping the temperature swings from night to day less dramatic than in Continental regions like Burgundy allowing the grapes to warm up and begin their ripening as soon as the sun is up. Also like Bordeaux (a classic place for Sauvignon Blanc) there are stony soils that allow drainage and reduce the vigor of this strong and fast growing vine.
What Does Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?
Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough has a distinctive, if not charmingly addictive, character. The high mouthwatering acidity complements rich tropical flavors contrasted by an asparagus, green grass savory character. It can range from bone dry to subtly sweet (8g/l RS). Because it is an isolated region stainless steel is a common aging method as shipping French casks across the sea is expensive and difficult. The stainless steel means distinctive fruit flavors, light to medium body, and a highly aromatic expression.
What Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’s might you recommend for a party?
Cloudy Bay ($25 USD) put Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc on the map and still stands up as the classic example of the style. Kim Crawford ($14 USD) is another classic example widely available in value price range. If you go much cheaper, than Kim Crawford, you may end up with overcropped and dilute flavor. If you need a porch pounder, Newharbour, ($8 USD), Brancrott ($8 USD), and Matua ($10 USD) do the job admirably.