The wine industry in New Zealand is a fairly young one. The country has a lot going for it, beauty, a laid back attitude and it turns out that perhaps outside of Sancerre in France’s Loire Valley, it may be the most interesting place in the world to grow Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand though is not a one trick pony. It’s certainly got a leg up on much of the world when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, but it also seems to offer a sweet spot for Pinot Noir. Folks are also producing Riesling, Syrah, Chardonnay and I hear maybe even a bit of Merlot there. (Honestly, I don’t know how they get anything done, I’d just stand around and stare at the mountains, and the coast, and maybe even the hobbits.)
The two primary valleys in the Marlborough region are the Wairu and the Awatere Valleys. In the mouths of us Americans they sound fairly humdrum, but when pronounced by a Kiwi, they sound incredibly cool (let’s face it, it’s the accent) and like places that would produce some compelling wines. The team at Dashwood makes their flagship Sauvignon Blanc as well as a Pinot Noir with fruit from both of these areas, and when blended they produce well balanced wines; ripe and bright. The wines being made in Marlborough are in a climatic sweet spot, the region is cool, but offers consistently warm days throughout the growing season, and the ocean air makes sure it never gets too hot. The result is wines with fruity opulence but plenty of zippy acidity. These are wines that upon opening, do plenty of bragging about what New Zealand wine is all about, with incredibly humble price-tags.
For under $10 this is borderline robbery this wine is so nice. Effusively aromatic the ripe Sauvignon Blanc which is fermented in 100% stainless steel is absolutely singing and vibrant. Aromas of pineapple, guava and lemon zest and a hint of crushed chalk. The palate is lush and full with rounded fruit flavors but an absolutely “ripper” acidity that just begs to be paired with the bounty of seafood that New Zealand also has to offer.
Pairing Picks: Seafood is a a sweet spot for a wine with this much fruit character, so think of oysters on the half shell, grilled shrimp and crab cakes, but the thirst slaking acidity will also stand up to fattier fish or buttery sauces, so go ahead and pan fry some cod or halibut with butter and garlic and pair it with this super Sauv Blanc.
Aromas of minerality dominate this Pinot Noir from more clay based soils, whereas the country’s signature Sauvignon Blanc comes from alluvial gravelly sites. The wine is a picture of fresh fruit and minerality with aromas of turned earthy and dusty blackberry. The palate is fresh with sweet blueberry flavors, along with currant and a persistence of minerality. Dusty, elegant tannins and a fresh finish of acidity.
Pairing Picks: Salmon is always a safe play with Pinot Noir and so you can’t go wrong here but this wine has the freshness and vibrancy to stand up to a bacon cheeseburger should you wish to be so bold.