Monday, October 17, 2005

New Zealand Wines

New Zealand is best known for high quality Sauvignon Blanc, but the wineries here produce other quality wines as well, most notably Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A small, beautiful country, New Zealand has earned a big reputation for wine.

Cloudy Bay

Located in the Marlborough Region, Cloudy Bay is probably New Zealand's most famous winery. The first Sauvignon Blanc was produced here in 1985. Produced in commercial volumes, it represents an excellent value for the money.

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay is always a good choice. This variety is a full bodied wine with complex enticing aromas. Creamy and full on the palate, it is a great complement to any meal. Try vintages from 1999, 2000 and 2001. These dry white vintages go well with cheese, poultry, fish and seafood. Great for lighter fare.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Vintage 2002 is a notable variety. Full bodied and aged in French oak barrels. An excellent accompaniment for seafood.
Other good years for Sauvignon Blanc from Cloudy Bay include the Marlborough vintage 2004 and 2003. Fruity characteristics enhance the palate structure. Tangy with bracing acidity. The brilliant fruit flavors and intensity are the hallmarks of Cloudy Bay.

Kim Crawford Wines

An interesting story, the Kim Crawford winery got its start over a glass of wine in a discussion between Kim and Erica Crawford with David Gleave. The point was that the world needed a clean, top quality fruit driven Chardonnay without the heavy oak used at the time. Two babies later, Kim and Erica established their Winery. A project they could do together while raising their young family, wine making has become their passion.

Vintage 2004 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is a Wine Spectator top 100. Considered explosively aromatic with pear, apple and melon flavors, this ideal warm-weather wine was never oaked. Refreshing when combined with seafood. A lovely light white. Try vintages from 2003 and 2002 as well.


Nikola Nobilio immigrated to New Zealand from Croatia in the 1940's although the family business of wine making stretches over 300 years. Nobilio acquired Selaks wines from the Selak family in 1998, acquiring another a renowned winemaker and innovator in the process. Today, Nobilo Vintners is merged with Constellation Brands, Inc. and represents a major component of the New Zealand wine market.

Nobilio Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc is a pale lemon color with green hues and brilliant clarity. Delicious bouquet of grapefruit and lively notes of cut grass and nettles. Beautifully balanced the 2004 vintage is characterized as one of the strongest New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs since 1985, and was awarded the Best New Zealand Wine Producer trophy at International and Spirit Competition. Vintages from 2003 and 2002 are also quite exceptional.

The WineZap Wine Club recently featured the 2004 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc. Here is what one of our tasters thought of it:

"These wines are, undoubtedly, some of my favorites if only for their sheer exuberance. The nose leaps like a static shock out of the glass and the citrus zaps across the palate. I was pleased, however, that this wine wasn’t over-the-top electric. Once you get past the zing there plenty of lush mango and pineapple lying nicely under the crisp grapefruit. And the finish lingers like a pleasant dream that slowly fades away. A touch of cream and a luscious mouthfeel round the wine out and make for a truly delicious experience."


Vintage 2004, Sauvignon Blanc from Dashwood is pale in color with good weight. Some exotic fruit notes, juicy and a little tart. Bright with a generous finish. Vintage 2001 is fresh and fairly intense. Fruity with aromas of white grapefruit, tangerine and peppery spices. The palate is brisk and juicy with a lemony acidity. On the sweet side for a sauvignon blanc, but fresh. 2003 is another excellent offering from Dashwood. These wines are reasonably priced and accessible.

Babich Wines

Founder Josip Babich was born in a what is now Croatia in 1895. At the age of 14, Josip emigrated to New Zealand to join his brothers. Two years later, he planted his first vineyard on the terraces above the Kaikino Swamp gum field. Handed down through the generations, Babich wines has been transformed from a small, predominantly fortified wine producer to a modern winery renowned for world class wines. Today, it is one of New Zealand's largest family-owned wine companies.

The Babich Patriarch Chardonnay, Vintage 1999 is a well structured Chardonnay featuring a ripe fruit character and restrained oak influence. Superb for all occasions, this partners well with poultry. Smooth and polished with spicy apple and pear flavors. Intense and complex.

Also worth note is the Babich Chardonnay, vintage 2001 and 2002. A fine, balanced wine with subtle oak influences. Medium bodied, rich and nutty. Peach on the nose integrated with oak and lemons on the finish. Buttery and smooth. A great complement to any meal.

Babich Sauvignon Blanc, Vintage 2004 has a lingering and crisp finish. Flavors of gooseberry and pear join the tropical fruit that is so characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc. An excellent companion to a lovely light meal. Vintages 2002 and 2000 are excellent as well. A terrific representation of the classic Sauvignon Blanc.