Durning a recent trip to the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, I got to taste through every Sauvignon Blanc that won a gold award, plus a number other Sauvignons during my travels as well. Out of those, here are my favorites...
A recent trip to New Zealand gave me to opportunity to attend the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. More than 1,300 wines are entered each year, making it easily the biggest wine competition in New Zealand (and likely the longest-lived—it’s been running for over 30 years).
I didn’t taste every entry, unsurprisingly, but I did taste through every Sauvignon Blanc that won a gold award, as well as some of the silver award winners, plus a number other Sauvignons during my travels as well—about 40-odd New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, all told. Out of those, here are my favorites (minus two, the 2013 Morton Estate White Label and the 2014 Martinborough Vineyard Te Tera, which apparently aren’t imported to the US right now, annoyingly enough).
2014 Starborough Sauvignon Blanc ($13)
Zesty and passionfruit-y, with lots of clean, bright flavor—not the most complex Sauvignon Blanc I tasted, but a true pleasure to drink.
2013 O’Dwyers Creek Sauvignon Blanc ($16)
A classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, balancing fresh grapefruit and green pepper notes.
2013 Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc ($18)
Graceful, with a distinct peppery note; yet the pepperiness doesn’t lean too far over into the green pepper/jalapeño notes New Zealand sometimes offers.
2014 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($19)
There’s a ripe intensity to the core of passionfruit flavor here, and a textural depth a lot of Marlborough Sauvignons never achieve.
2014 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc ($20)
Kevin Judd was the winemaker at Cloudy Bay for many years and helped define the New Zealand Sauvignon style while there. His Greywacke wines are terrific—the ’13 Sauvignon has impressively lengthy grapefruit, lime and pepper flavors.
2013 Mahi Sauvignon Blanc ($22)
Fresh cut grass in the aroma and an almost savory note to the gooseberry and citrus fruit—this focused white is an impressive offering from a superb vintage in New Zealand.
2014 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc ($23)
A lightly saline mineral note gives this polished Sauvignon more complexity than many others have. Plus, it comes from organically farmed vineyards.