Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: Wines To Buy, Tasting Notes and Regional Information

Editor’s Note: New Zealand’s Marlborough wine region has become synonymous with the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. In recent years, it has become the most popular New World region for the production of the grape. Unlike European regions like France’s Loire Valley (Sancerre / Touraine), Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough is often more affordable, while offering zippy acidity and refreshing tropical fruit flavors that make for a very easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing white wine. Read on to learn more.


IN THIS GUIDE:


Aerial view of Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in Marlborough New Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc is grown in abundance across Marlborough. This characteristically tropical and grassy-flavored wine is popular among consumers for its drink-ability and low price points.

Why is the Marlborough Wine Region of New Zealand Ideal for Growing Sauvignon Blanc?

Marlborough, remarkable for its southern latitude as a wine region, is home to 88% of New Zealand’s vines and most of those vines are Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, 80% of all wine from New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc.

Marlborough’s southern latitudes contribute to cool winds and refreshing nights that allow Sauvignon Blanc to retain its crisp vibrant and refreshing acidity. Its Southern latitudes also mean extended sunlight hours in the summer months (December, January, February in the Southern Hemisphere) to allow proper ripening given these cool conditions. 

Not unlike Bordeaux, there is a strong maritime climate on the South Island keeping the temperature swings from night to day less dramatic than in Continental regions like Burgundy, allowing the grapes to warm up and begin their ripening as soon as the sun is up. Also like Bordeaux (a classic place for Sauvignon Blanc) there are stony soils that allow drainage and reduce the vigor of this strong and fast-growing vine.


RELATED: The 7 Best New Zealand Wine Regions to Visit and Why


Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Notes
Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region is ideal for an aperitif and perfect to drink outdoors on a warm sunny day.

What Does Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?

Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough has a distinctive, if not charmingly addictive character. The high mouthwatering acidity complements rich tropical flavors contrasted by an asparagus, green grass savory character.

It can range from bone dry to subtly sweet (8g/l RS). Because it is an isolated region, stainless steel is a common aging method as shipping French casks across the sea is expensive and difficult. Stainless steel leads to distinctive fruit flavors, light to medium body, and a highly aromatic expression.


RELATED: The Many Flavors of Sauvignon Blanc: Try These Versions from Around the World


Best Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to buy
Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand is a great choice for parties. A number of brands produce very affordable versions and they’re easily accessible at most grocery and liqour stores.

What are the best Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs to buy?

  • Cloudy Bay ($25 USD) put Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc on the map and still stands up as the classic example of the style.
  • Kim Crawford ($14 USD) is another classic example widely available in the value price range. If you go much cheaper than Kim Crawford, you may end up with overcropped and diluted flavors.
  • Oyster Bay ($10 USD) offers consistency year after year and is widely available across the United States. Another superb value buy and crowd-pleaser.
  • If you need a porch pounder, Newharbour, ($8 USD), Brancrott ($8 USD), and Matua ($10 USD) do the job admirably.
Food and Wine Pairing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Seafood (both raw and grilled) makes for an ideal pairing with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Food Pairing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

It’s not too difficult to pair this wine with a range of dishes and cheeses. Some of our go-to pairings always include grilled fish, including snapper, swordfish, and mahi-mahi. Salads and fruit salads always make for palate-pleasing options. You can also pair most New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs with sweet and savory Thai dishes, grilled chicken and raw seafood, such as sushi and oysters.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maggie Campbell DipWSET is Head Distiller and Vice President of Privateer Rum. She is founder of the Denver Brewer’s League, serves on the Board of the Directors of the American Craft Spirit Association and co-chairs their Education Committee. Maggie is a WSET Certified Educator and also the North American representative on the WSET International Alumni Advisory Board, all of which she manages while studying for her Master of Wine.

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