Just as New Zealand
Crawford Winery proclaims its 2013 Sauvignon Blanc as its best ever vintage,
Jancis Robinson has rained on the Sauvignon Blanc parade.
In a late October article in the Financial Times, she wrote:
“Although there was a time when other non-European countries were deeply
envious of New Zealand’s
having an emblematic grape … this is decidedly out of fashion. Diversity is in
Her comment was triggered by attending a New Zealand wine tasting in London
hosted by three top New
Zealand wineries. They brought a total of 50
wines and not one was Sauvignon Blanc. They were showing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
A few days after that article, I found myself sharing a glass
of wine (Red Rooster Pinot Blanc!) at Vancouver International Airport with Mark
Rattray, a New Zealand winemaker on his way back home after working the vintage
for Skimmerhorn Winery in Creston.
As an aside, he is one of two New Zealand winemakers working for
Creston wineries. Dan Barker makes the wine for Baillie-Grohman. Both have been
doing this for several years, taking advantage of the fact that vintage in the
northern hemisphere corresponds to the off-season for winemaking down under.
I mentioned the Jancis Robinson comment to Mark. He replied
that Sauvignon Blanc may be out of fashion in Britain
but markets in the United States
still can’t get enough of it.
Jancis was not dissing Sauvignon Blanc. She was just
pointing out that 85% of the New Zealand
wine sold in Britain
Sauvignon Blanc and suggesting, perhaps, that New Zealand
has too many eggs in one
I would agree that New Zealand has very exciting Pinot
Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. While Pinot Noir’s fashion has been rising for
almost a decade, I wonder whether consumers have overcome the “anything but
has had Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in the Marlborough
region (top of the south island) for at least 40 years. The Kim Crawford
winery, which was founded in 1996, has its Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in Marlborough
Anthony Walkenhorst, Kim Crawford’s chief winemaker, says:
“We only got serious about growing Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough 30 to 40
years ago, so that’s as far back as we can go in comparing vintages. The 2013
vintage will easily be among the best … or the best of the past 20 to 30
The 2013 vintage in Marlborough
benefited from exceptional grape growing weather, with warm days, cool nights
and with rain when required but none at harvest. In fact, it was the driest
season in Marlborough
in 70 years. The result: healthy grapes full of flavour.
Now the British may choose to miss out on a vintage of a
lifetime. We don’t have to. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is among the 31
New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs listed in British
If it was a vintage of the lifetime for Kim Crawford, it
stands to reason that most of the 2013s will also be very good. In going
through the LDB’s list, I see that many of the Sauvignon Blancs still are from
2011 and 2012. A number of them currently are being sold at a slight discount,
including an earlier vintage of Kim Crawford. It is $17.99 until the end of the
year. I wonder if the discounts are an effort to move older vintages before the
fabulous 2013s get here.
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is the only 2013 I have tasted.
It lives up to its billing. Here is my note.
Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($19.99). This is a classically dramatic Sauvignon
Blanc, with aromas of lime, grapefruit, guava, herbs and fresh green grass
exploding from the glass. The herbal and lime flavours carry over to the tangy
and refreshing palate. The mineral backbone and the fresh acidity give the wine
a laser-sharp focus. The zesty finish is long and lingering. 92