Sauvignon Blanc of New Zealand


Henry Yuen – Wine columnist (Original Chinese version please log onto http://taiyangbao.ca/author/henryyuen/?variant=zh-hans

Sitting at home sipping a glass of wine when NHL is still going but no Canucks on TV is a downer. Something is not sitting right without one Canadian team in the final round to cheer for. After all, Hockey is Canada’s game. When it comes to sport, certain country seems to shine with dominance in certain sports. Such as Soccer in Brazil, Ping Pong in China, Badminton in Malaysia, Basketball in US and of course, Hockey in Canada!

Interesting enough, such distinction also applies to wine, at least this is my discovery as a result of what I have tasted and observed so far!

Each wine country or region will always have its imperative benchmark or flagship varietal, perhaps more than one kind. Argentina has Malbec, Australia has Syrah, Chile has Carmenere, France have Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Germany has Riesling, Italy has Sangiovese, South Africa has Pinotage, California has Chardonnay …etc. What about New Zealand? Sauvignon Blanc, I say. And many wine lovers will not disagree! As a matter of fact, a recent tasting of New Zealand wines confirmed my thought.

With a long span of vineyards stretching 1600km from north to south, there is an array of varieties such as Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling, to name a few, in New Zealand. Nevertheless, setting the glorious tone and the benchmark is inarguably their Sauvignon Blanc.

Planted only since the early 1970's in Auckland, then in Marlborough few years later, Sauvignon Blanc may not have a long history in New Zealand, but the quality of this varietal has already been garnering international recognition at various wine competitions.  It has captured many savvy wine drinkers’ attention not just in the homeland, but in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

Today, Sauvignon Blanc has become the country’s most widely grown varietal. In fact, I have yet to taste a less than satisfying Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. On the contrary, there have been more than a few ‘aah’ moments created by sipping chilled to perfection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.  A classic example is the Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough sauvignon Blanc 2011 - fruity with citrus note, clean and crispy with seductive aroma, this one white wine pairs beautifully with Chinese pan-fried scallops with pea shoots, steamed whole fish with dried olive and ginger and sautéed spot prawns.

However, having Sauvignon Blanc as their flagship wine does not mean other wine varietals from New Zealandare are less desirable. For example, I have tasted some outstanding New Zealand Pinot Gris from Hawke’s Bay and Pinot Noir from South Island!