This week I picked up a couple of bottles of Kim Crawford’s Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough; I’ve always liked this wine. Even today being run by large conglomerate; It is still very tasty. Sauvignon Blanc is coming from many places in great quality. Here are some examples…Some nice ones are, New Zealand’s own Cloudy Bay, Oyster Bay and Loveblock(to name three), South Africa’s Mulderbosch, Chile’s Erraruiz Max Reserva, Napa’s Frog’s Leap and the Loire’s Domaine de la Perriere Sancerre…You get the message. Sauvignon Blanc rocks all over the place.But the wines of New Zealand have really picked up over the past ten years and the Marlborough region has been the center of terrific attention. Ok here are some New Zealand facts and storytelling to chew on.
The modern era of Marlborough’s winemaking history really starts in 1970s but the folks of Marlborough truly have been pioneering grape growing and winemaking as early as the 1870s, one hundred years earlier. Honestly, I don’t think those folks would have ever predicted the progress and fame though.
The main reason for the growth in the region is because of the Sauvignon Blanc. This has all happened so fast it seems…in wine years. The region is now considered a benchmark region for the varietal which in itself is pretty remarkable. But, it’s deserved. The key to future lies for this region to stay true to itself; evolve and not become a victim of standardization over time.
Sauvignon Blanc….with its’ individual spiciness and invigorating fruit flavors have really caught the imagination of international wine community and general consumers.So this has spawned vineyard development that is reaching its highest peak now. It has also inspired other countries such as Argentina and South Africa to put more stock into Sauvignon Blanc… with success as well. The wines are very tasty.
According to the New Zealand’s Winegrowers Association the first exportation of wine in 1963 came ten years before grapes were even planted in Marlborough. Nevertheless, Marlborough is now the largest wine producing region in the country, 79% of New Zealand’s total active wine production.
As Sauvignon Blanc has continued to fuel that the Marlborough, New Zealand wine boom; The region itself has advanced to 23,600 hectares of land planted with planted grapes. These plantings are primarily located within the Wairau Valley…(but has also spread southeast into the smaller slightly cooler Awatere Valley. Furthermore, recently the southern side valleys of the Wairau – Fairhall, Hawkesbury and Waihopai – have grouped an assemblage of vines).
Located on the east coast with mountains to the west, Marlborough is one of New Zealand’s sunniest and driest areas. In these sunny, but moderately ‘cool’ climate conditions, the grapes have the advantage of a lengthy slow, flavor intensifying ripening period. The average daily temperature during summer is nearly 80 degrees F… but clear cool nights keep acidity levels high in the grapes.
The obvious day and night temperature shifts are a major factor behind the ability of the Marlborough grapes to retain both fresh, vivacious fruit and crisp, herbaceous characters(The contrast between day and night also helps to enhance the color in the skins of Pinot Noir).
In the same way, within the wine region, grape growing has been developed primarily on sites with moderate low fertility and a strikingly stony, sandy loam top soil covering deep layers of free-draining grit, as found in the wine areas of the Wairau and the Awatere Valleys.
These shallow, fast draining, low fertility soils help to produce a lush, aromatic ripe wine and this is because this type of soil lessens the vines potency; when a more herbaceous style of wine is looked-for, sites with more water retentive soils and restrained fertility are selected. – If you can picture that?!?
If you have the opportunity… pick a bottle up today and try it with some Salmon or maybe a Caesars Salad. It’s grapefruit, melon and herbal qualities go well along side shrimp with dill or other herbs; even goat cheese! I like Sauvignon Blanc it with Buffalo Wings myself.