Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc

‘E’ Wine of the week

By Bruce Cochran

Hello Everyone,

This week we’ll have an update on one of the world’s most exciting and vibrant winemaking countries, something of a “rise and fall” story that includes some great news for wine lovers looking to use their wine budgets wisely.

Try a new wine this week!


Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, From New Zealand’s Marlborough District

For most of the past decade, New Zealand has been the world’s fastest growing wine region. In one of history’s great wine stories, a country whose wine business was only about a generation or so old came out of nowhere to breathe new life into a traditional grape — sauvignon blanc — whose fortunes had faded to relative obscurity. The new style was bright, crisp, aromatic and refreshing, described with terms like “lime,” “minerality” and “gooseberries,” sort of the margarita of wine. A lot of good seafood has been enjoyed with New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

California has seen a lot of new sauvignon blanc vineyards established because of this new-found popularity. Many are marketed as “New Zealand style” with less emphasis on oak and a crisper, racier style than many California versions in past years.

And more recently, New Zealand began to excel with the world’s fastest growing (please excuse the pun), red wine grape-pinot noir. And not only has it been the fastest growing in popularity, but pinot noir is by reputation the most difficult wine grape to grow.

From North Island to South Island, New Zealand has a variety of growing conditions, but its cool climates to the south have been the most exciting. Sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, on the north end of South Island, was followed by pinot noir in Central Otago farther south, creating an entire category in wine retailers’ shelves, restaurant wine lists and the portfolios of importers and distributors around the world.

So what’s happening now? Well, like most situations it’s neither all good nor all bad, but it’s far better today to be a New Zealand wine consumer than a producer. As so often happens in the wine world, and probably other worlds, too, production grew until it collapsed under its own weight. What began as a product of independent wineries attracted the attention of large multinational corporations looking for growth (another unavoidable pun), and that led to today’s current state of overproduction and near collapse of grape prices. With the introduction of the Monkey Bay brand only a few years ago, an almost predictable downward spiral in pricing began. Ironically, Monkey Bay’s label was designed by the same artist who did the label for Yellow Tail, the inexpensive Australian brand that some blame, at least in part, for that country’s current wine woes.

You may already be seeing how this is good for consumers. For years now, New Zealand sauvignon blanc has retailed locally for $15-$20, at least for most brands. That’s changing, to the woes of the growers and the benefit of their customers. You can get good — not the best, but good — New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for less than $15. One dependable brand that’s usually easy to find is Nobilo (pronounced “NAWB ee low”).

Categories: Legacy Archive