New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Worlds Most Popular and Least Understood Wine

New Zealand Sauvignon blanc could be one of the world’s most popular wines and at the same time the least understood. When you pause and consider that over 85% of New Zealand’s wine producers make less than 25k cases of wine per year, yet the world is generally exposed to the production from the remaining 15%.

Granted, this 15% has done a tremendous job of marketing a singular story, the really exciting side of New Zealand is this large group of micro producers.

This group has regional diversity, winemaking styles that vary and generally a very hands on approach in their vineyards. Most are both wine growers and wine makers. In other words they can honestly be viewed as Estates.

New Zealand wine writer Michael Cooper recently wrote about this in the New Zealand Listener. His article has some interesting comments.

  • …the classic French grape variety also thrives in other regions, from Hawke’s Bay to Waipara…
  • … from Hawke’s Bay grapes and modelled on the famous dry whites of Graves, in Bordeaux, swings the spotlight on our alternative sauvignons.
  • UK wine writer Tom Cannavan argues that ‘‘the ‘typical’ New Zealand sauvignon is not a food wine, and is rarely subtle or complex … the style is becoming a caricature: aromatic fireworks and a dollop of residual sugar to balance searing acidity has become a recipe by which some churn out a ‘product’, rather than a wine”.
  • … is critical of the common practice in New Zealand of making sauvignon blanc slightly sweet, “a style where one glass is definitely enough
  • … Surely the world expects sauvignon blanc to be dry white wine. I certainly do!”

The article continues to highlight several producers who understand the difference between “fine wine and a refreshing beverage”.

This is just one of many comments I hear about the current state of New Zealand wine. Some predict New Zealand is following Australia toward the same cliff.

My sense is the world is about to discover the “little guys” scattered across New Zealand who make really nice wines, that lead to memorable evenings with friends and food.

You can read the full article on the Listeners web site. Listener

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2 Responses to “New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Worlds Most Popular and Least Understood Wine”

  1. Paul Hopkins Says:

    Unfortunately its a sad state of affairs but perhaps one that New Zealand wine producers have got themselves into. All too often NZ SB does have the residual sugar and styles rarely vary enough to make any meaningful difference.

    NZ needs to avoid the trap that Australian wines fell in by trying to avoid putting all their egg in one basket (it may be too late for this) because as soon as the bubble bursts, where will the industry be?

    Producers such as Gravitas, Saint Clair, Dog Point and Pegasus all make superb examples of Sauv Blanc, but all too often it is the mass producers who can afford to have their wine selling cheaply around the world that do brand NZ the most harm.

    Paul
    http://www.winepod.com.au/blog

  2. Ron McFarland Says:

    You are right, there could be a train coming down the tracks with entire industry standing on the tracks like deer in the headlights.

    My sense is producers like the ones you mention and others will have the sense and courage to quietly step aside and after the wreck seek to speak directly to consumers about their intense desires to make fun and interesting wines.

    Thanks for the comment.

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