6 Sexy, Summery, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs Under $15 USD: Taste-Off! Part 1 of 2

11 06 2010

Sauvignon Blanc on the Sill © 2010, Tales From the Trellis

The hot, steamy weather is here and that means it is time for some delicious white wine. One of my favorites, when it gets hot, is Sauvignon Blanc. So, being that New Zealand Sauv Blanc  is a big hit here in my house as well as with friends, I decided to see which of the current brands out there were the best. Best way to do this is have a semi blind tasting to see. Semi blind, in that already know the varietals and even the brands, but we do not know which one is which.

I’m excited about this tasting on a few levels. First of all, unlike the last blind tasting on value priced Pinot Noir under $12 USD, there are far more quality choices here. So even though I am only going to taste and discuss this sample of 6 “popular” and available bottles, there are many out there that can be had for around this same price – so go forth and find/try them.

Overview: Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand  is (still) a great value varietal that has been around and makes its appearance in many blends and in many regions around the world. Taste profiles range vastly with this grape, and in New Zealand – it produces very distinct aromas and flavours – so you should be able to pick it out of a lineup with other types of wines.

All of the wines I am about to discuss originate from wineries in Marlborough. It is arguably the best place to grow and produce this wine and I have found it to be the best example of SB from this country (and many others too).

Typical of NZ SB’s, you will find tropical fruit like pineapple, peach, citrus like lemon and/or lime, freshly cut grass, and sometime cat pee (yes-I went there),

If you like this, try to find SB from other regions to see how styles change with region and terroir. This can be seen easily with this wine. French use it to make Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. It is blended with Semillion.

Tropical flavors like melon, pineapple and heavy grapefruit as well as gooseberry, herbs, grass and rhubarb and citrus (limes) lemon zest, passionfruit. enough acid (crisp) on the finish to keep it refreshing.

Easy drinking, great summer wine, no bitterness, some crisp acid that is refreshing and super on hot days. In the summer, I go for this and sparking wines as well as rosé (look for a post on that soon).

History: Though NZ is considered “New World”, they have made wine since the early to mid 1800’s and the oldest area is Hawke’s Bay where, as we see in many other regions, wine was being produced for the church. In the last 14 years, the amount of wineries in NZ has almost tripled from about 230 to 600.

Growing Areas: The Region is made up of 8 main regions: Auckland, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Wairairapa, Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury, and Central Otago. There are 2 islands that make up NZ. Marlborough is at the northernmost part of the South island and produces the most amount of this wine. Chardonnay and Pinot are also produced, and are really starting to be of excellent quality for the price. Look for an upcoming post on blind tasting NZ pinot noir under $12 soon! I have already purchased a few great examples for this one. The vast amount of sun along with cool nights and low rain make this a perfect place to grow this grape.


  • 24 glasses: Riedel O white and Riedel Party glasses (did not have 24 of either so had to work that out)
  • 6 wine bottles with all labels hidden and numbered-and thus “blind”
  • About 2 ounces in each glass, each served one “round” at a time
  • 4 people tasting and taking notes of which 2 are SB fans, 1 is ambivalent and the other is “not a fan”

NOTE: These wines did change a lot from the time we first sipped #1 until we worked through the 6th one. I thought I had a clear winner –but changed my mind entirely.

Semi-Blind Tasting

I am getting some help with this tasting, as my wife Stacey, mom and mother in law will be sipping along to ensure a “fair and balanced” representation. Each bottle is wrapped with a blank paper and tagged with a number so we will be able to associate our notes with that bottle. There are some fancier kits you can purchase for wine tasting parties, but since this is merely for “science” and not for “show,” I will keep it fairly casual.

OK, the bottles are organized and covered (blind), and I have poured 2 sets of 4 Riedel Overture red wine glasses with about 2 ounces each of the 4 bottles and labeled napkins under each to tell us what to associate with our notes. Again, this is “blind” so we have no idea which we will be tasting until after we reveal out notes and rankings. I also allowed these samples about 45 minutes in the glasses to breath before we began.

The wines are:

Matua, Cooper’s Creek, Babich, Brancott, Satellite and Oyster Bay. All of these but the Brancott (2009) were from the 2008 vintage. Also note, I am estimating under $15 US, but I did pay about $10 here in NJ.

Check back soon to see the tasting notes and the final results! It was surprising to say the least.

Steve from the Trellis


© Tales From the Trellis and Talesfromthetrellis, 2010




5 responses

11 06 2010

Anxiously awaiting the results….Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite summer drink!

12 06 2010

Carol, I wanted to split it into to parts because it was a huge article and with notes on 6 bottles, it ran quite long!
Stay tuned! Thanks for reading. Steve from the Trellis

20 06 2010

When I was in New Zealand one of the merchants called Babich a supermarket wine. But he didn’t seem to like us so perhaps he was just disagreeing with our selection.

20 06 2010

Ry, not to give it away, but the merchant was not entirely wrong…at least this vintage! It did place toward the back, sadly.
Thanks for your reply! Keep em coming. Did you get to visit any of the vineyards while down there?
Steve From the Trellis

4 10 2011
Which Wine? » Tales of an HBS Wife

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