Sauvignon Blanc (yes, she drinks White, too!)

Allow me to introduce a swath of wines all of which are sure to please (as far as I can tell so far).  They are the Sauvignon Blancs of Marlborough, New Zealand.  Someday I’ll actually have to visit this area to double-check that I really love all of its wines, but as far as I can tell remotely?  I do.  to get a sense of where this regions is:

Marlborough, NZ

Ok, so that might not mean much to you unless you’re some unique NZ climatologist.  I can tell you, it makes for some delicious grapes!  Here’s why… ish.

What’s well-known about this region is that its fertile growing grounds created the modern wine industry of New Zealand.  Today, the Marlborough wine region represents 62% of total vineyard area in the country.  The primary varietal here is Sauvignon Blanc, closely followed by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  I’m not going to talk at all about the latter two because I haven’t tried them yet… they’re on my list.  Instead, I’m going to feature one of my favorite no-fail Sauvignon Blancs, Oyster Bay (in this case, 2006, but I haven’t heard much to say that the vintage matters a lot with this wine).  This, mind you, is coming from a used-to-be-self-proclaimed-“I don’t drink white wines”-girl.  I was wrong.  To be perfectly honest, I have to say, I’m actually not the only person in the world who likes this wine.  In fact, a LOT of people like this wine.  Its popularity has grown significantly in the past 10 years because people realized that the fertile ground in New Zealand was ideal for a Sauvignon grape– that this grape needn’t come only from France!  Lots of sun, cool nights, low autumn rains and easily draining alluvial (loose) soils combine to make Marlborough ideal for grape growing.

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Oyster Bay Sauvignon rocks my socks and here is why.

The Flavor is sprightly.  I guess it’s the texture too, in fact.  The whole taste of this Sauvignon is light, crisp, citrus and refreshing!  It’s a white wine that really tastes  just a little like a spritzer without that carbonated nonsense.  Its flavors are lemon, passionfruit and, apparently, gooseberry– that last one is like snozberries to me– I never know precisely what that smells like.  But needless to say, it’s a bouquet of fresh, tropical fruit with literally no sour, buttery, or bitter taste whatsoever.   To me, those can be the drawbacks to White wines much of the time.  I really enjoy a crisp, light white that has a lot of flavor, but I do not enjoy a lingering, sloppy finish.  Oyster Bay is a really “clear” finish.  You can taste just the fruit on the back of your tongue.  I would call it a medium-bodied wine for that reason.  Not a long finish, just enough to feel like you’ve gotten a whole taste of berry and citrus throughout the sip. The last element of this wine I’d like to note is its acidity.  I’ve done some research to figure out how the acid level affects the taste of the wine and I think I’ve drawn this semi-coherent conclusion: When a wine has too little acidity, it is often described as “flabby” or “flat” and is thought to lack structure. In short, it’s boring. When a wine has too little sugar and too much acidity, it is often unpleasantly tart and sour tasting.  In the case of Oyster Bay there is a sweet, sour, tangy balance that proves to be just right.  I love the cool crispness of the fruit but it’s NOT too tart.

Pairing: I could honestly have this wine anytime I was in the mood for a white wine.  That isn’t a regular occasion for me, but I could have this even in winter with a nice salmon and asparagus meal.  However, it is REALLY refreshing in the summer.  This would really be an ideal compliment to any assortment of vegetables, fish and salad.  I think anything super meaty or heavy would overwhelm its lightness- so you wouldn’t get nearly the bang for your taste buck.  I would suggest having with any/all (on a few occasions) of the following: asparagus, grilled vegetables, salads, light sauced pork or poultry, salmon, steamed clams, scallops, mussels and, oh yeah, oysters.

Retail Value: $15 (a great deal!)
VINE AGE: 4 –12 years
PRUNING REGIME: Cane Pruned, Vertical Shoot Positioning
HARVEST DATE: 11 March – 9 April 2006
ALCOHOL: 13% v/v
pH: 3.2

Julia Uncorked says:  92/100.  A fav!

Referenced Vocab: Sauvignon Blanc. Oyster Bay, Acid, medium-body, snozberry

3 Responses to “Sauvignon Blanc (yes, she drinks White, too!)”

  1. LOVE these wines!!!

  2. Erin Martin Says:

    Juuuulia. I looove Oyster Bay. Sauv Blanc is just about the only white wine I will drink!! And I’m totally with you on the love of new world reds. I’m pretty much obsessed with Malbecs. I’m looking forward to all your trials and tribulations with wine 🙂

  3. Jules – we were in NZ in December/January and had a plethora of beautiful wine experiences. The climate is wonderful for grapes and the countryside is dotted with wineries all over the south island. Our favorite Sauvignon Blanc is decidedly Cloudy Bay. It’s sometimes harder to get in the U.S. than Oyster Bay or Kim Crawford (another great one) or Brancott (which we had on Grammy’s cruise – at Marc’s and my insistence – maybe you remember) but definitely worth the search and the $25 price tag. If you don’t get it before next month, we’ll treat you to a bottle when you’re here in Tokyo in April! I think Sauv Blanc is best with cocktail hour by the way – another Grammy tradition!

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