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What are your favorite NZ Sauvignon Blancs?

  • m

I'm currently in love with this stuff. The flavors just sit right with me, and the value can't be beat. Anyone have any favorites (in any price range)?

I've found some suprises: Nobilo ($8.99/bottle) and Matua ($7.99) were very drinkable, for a steal!

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  1. My favorite is Cloudy Bay, though I don't drink it often since it usually retails for around $25-$30 per bottle.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Darren72

      I second Cloudy Bay. Not only is is a bit on the expensive side it can be tough to find.

      1. re: SLO

        Back when Cloudy Bay first burst onto the scene, someone (Herb Caen?) described it perfectly as like strapping yourself naked to Elle McPherson and bungee-jumping into a bottomless pit of gooseberries and cat pee. Or words to that effect. Wish I could find the exact quote. Can anyone help?

        1. re: carswell

          Herb Caen was quoting an Australian wine merchant (though it may have been an Aussie wine writer). The quote was, to the best of my recollection, "like strapping yourself naked to Elle McPherson and bungee-jumping into a bottomless pit of gooseberries and cat pee."


      2. re: Darren72

        CLoudy Bay is excellent, but pricy. I usually contenttmyself with Kim Crawford which is about 20 bux in Toronto, but a mere 12 dollars at Costco in Scottsdale.

      3. They are great summer wines. Isabel 'Marlborough' is a really good wine and can be a little less pricey than Cloudy Bay, which I like too. I also stock up on Nobilo 'Marlborough' whenever I hit TJ's. Love it's grapefruit vs. tropical fruit flavors and so far, I have yet to find anything else in that price range that I like better.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Moka

          I second the Isabel recommendation. Usually $13-$15 if you look for it. Better than CB, IMHO. I've been drinking Isabel since the 1996 vintage and they're consistently good and surprisingly age worthy. (cracked a 1999 a month or two ago and it was stellar). But usually, I can't wait and I drink it while it's fresh and crisp and pungent.

          1. re: Moka

            Love Nobilo, I also love King Shag, another find at TJ's for $7.99, same, grapefruit undertones....

          2. I discovered the NZ's a couple of years ago. Was never crazy about white wine in general, I'm really more of a red zin/pinot gal but I really just love the SB's from the Marlborough area in general and most have been really great, regardless of who makes them. But, I do tend to favor the Nobilo, and like you Moka, stock up when I can. A great summer wine.


            1. New Zealand wines aren't legion in Quebec though the situation has improved significantly in the last 18 months. Here are my notes from a sauvignon blanc flight at a tasting last winter.

              >Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Marlborough, Kim Crawford (C$17.15) 13% alc.
              Textbook New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Explosive nose of passion fruit, melon and jalapeno with a squirt of cat pee. Zesty upfront fruit, zingy acidity and a limesicle finish. Fresca for adults? Sure. You got a problem with that?

              >Sauvignon Blanc 2004, Marlborough, Jackson Estate (C$20) 13% alc.
              Grassier and greener, the fruit tending to kiwi and gooseberry. Crisp, minerally, refreshing.

              Fumé Blanc 2003, Dry Creek Valley, Lake Sonoma Winery (C$22.35) 13.5% alc.
              Initial volatile acidity. Reticent nose, more minerals than fruit. Totally dry, mouthfilling, sharp and grapefruity with a chalky finish. Turned watery and hot as it breathed and warmed.

              >Menetou-Salon 2004, Morogues, Domaine Henry Pellé (C$23) 12.5% alc.
              Delicate nose, white flowers, citrusy with a hint of chile. Dry, light but flavourful, a tracery of grapefruit and minerals, a taut balance of fruit and acidity, a lingering sourness that draws you back for another sip.

              The two Marlborough wines made an obvious pair. To my surprise, the Fumé Blanc was stylistically closer to the Loire than New Zealand. The Kim Crawford was the crowd pleaser. Pure and elegant, the Menetou-Salon was in a class by itself; my mouth waters just thinking about it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: carswell

                I'm with you on the Kim Crawford. I love this wine, very delicate. I only drink SB (mainly a red wine drinker)and I found a great French one last winter at Trader Joe's but it is discontinued. It was a steal and better than Geisen IMO.

              2. I'm a big fan of Drylands Sauv Blanc. It sells for around $12.99 - $13.99 in SoCal and rivals others at closer to $20+.

                1. I've liked almost all the Marlborough sb's I've had. The only one I can think of that I didn't like much was $7 from Trader Joe's. I've had some >$20 ones but for that price I think the Loire has better values.

                  1. NZ sauvignon blancs are some of my favs. However, I've come across a few articles lately on the virtues of Chilean Sauv Blanc. Any thoughts?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: antjones9

                      I bought one yesterday after trying it in the store, Casillero del Diablo. It was not as intensely flavored as some of the NZ SVs I've had, but struck me as a pleasant wine for a hot summer afternoon outdoors (which was the purpose of my purchase). It'll be consumed tomorrow so if there are any reactions I'll advise.

                      1. re: antjones9

                        I had the Carmen SB recently at a restaurant and really liked it. Not as grassy or overbearing with grapefruit like a lot of NZ SBs can be

                      2. Thinking more about this, my favorite is Giesen.

                        1. Cloudy Bay ! There seem to be no off-vintage for this exceptional producer.

                          Mount Nelson 2004 is not as clean and crisp as Cloudy Bay, but for a lower price, this is a very good NZ SB QPR.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: RCC

                            >There seem to be no off-vintage for this exceptional producer.
                            Hmm. While it's true I've never encountered a dog, vintages like 1997 didn't exactly have me rushing out to buy more, especially at the going price.

                          2. I too like most NZSBs. Cloudy Bay was the first I tried but I find others to be a better value and nearly as good. I like Villa Maria as well as Nobilo.

                            South African whites are pretty good too...

                            1. Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand unique, and I've been drinking them for about three years now. I've tried just about every brand out there, and here are my top 3:
                              *Whitehaven (Marlborough, 2005)
                              *Giesen (best value)
                              *Villa Maria (also great value)

                              Cloudy Bay is overpriced, in my opinion, and very similar to wines costing less than half as much. But since CB was the first NZ Sauv. Blanc to attract attention in the US, they can still command a higher price. I don't think it's worth the extra cost.

                              1. Has anyone tried Kerner Vineyards? Its hard to track down, but I found it to be just lovely...somehow floral and minerally with a touch of grapefruit overtones.

                                1. Goldwater "New Dog" is excellent. Very nice fruit and finish. About US$18 around Boston.

                                  1. Omaka Springs. A great buy.

                                    1. Everyone so far has mentioned the Marlborough SBs, which are most common and very good. But I think the best bottle of NZ SB that I've ever had was Craggy Range Martinborough Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. I had it at Passionfish on the Monterey peninsula. Unlike Marlborough this is from the North Island. Well worth trying if you see it. Don't remember what I paid.


                                      1. Cloudy Bay: Cat pee on a gooseberry bush. I remember the quote well. The wine created a specific NZ style of SB. Very over the top and with a distinctive nose and taste. I taste jalapeno on the front and very lemony behind. Great with many foods and popular as it can go with mexican foods where other wines pale. Fits with modern tastes.

                                        Less expensive is Brancott. Nice NZ SB. Salud LMF

                                        1. I'll second Foodboy's rec of the Villa Maria SB from Marlborough (Hawke's Bay).

                                          Although I've tried several other NZ SBs this summer(including the Nobilo), I keep returning to Villa Maria.

                                          It's a bargain too. $10.50 at my local Trader Joe's (Boston).

                                          1. I second Phoo D's endorsement of the Craggy Ridge Te Muna Block SB from Martinborough. Year in, year out this is an outstanding example.

                                            However, my current fave is the 2005 Clos Henri SB from Marlborough. It is produced by Henri Bourgeois from the Loire.

                                            It has elegant herbaceous and citrus notes, not often found in the full-throttle gooseberry monsters of today. Very tasty, but pricey at $26.95 Cdn.

                                            1. I second Isabel...yum...but hard to find.

                                              1. I bought Monkey Bay (Marlborough) at a supermarket in Florida--zippy zingy fruity gooseberries--very cheap!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: kenito799

                                                  I agree. I like most NZ SBs, but Monkey Bay is very good and a very good value.


                                                2. Cloudy Bay
                                                  Kim Crawford, and
                                                  Villa Maria

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Paul H

                                                    Weve been quite fond of these SBs, I think we liked the Stoneleigh quite well, also the Babich. The Santa Maria is delicious, but strikes me as being a little looser and sweeter, if that makes sense. this discussion reminds me Id like to try more of these tasty wines this summer.

                                                  2. Hmmm... haven't tried the Nobilo; definitely will now.

                                                    I second the Kim Crawford, Cloudy Bay and Villa Maria. I'm dying to try the Goldwater "New Dog", but it's priced relatively high here in NYC.

                                                    For Chilean, Veramonte SB is very good and so is the Santa Rita Riserva.

                                                    1. i second the chilean veramonte- VERY nice. it was, up until recently, i believe, the legal seafoods house SB, and it was only about $10 per bottle in stores. it's not easy to find, though, from my hunting experience....

                                                      on an opposite note, DON'T try the mirassou (i believe i'm remembering that correctly): not a nice example of an SB.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: melle76

                                                        I haven't had a Mirassou of any variety that impressed me.

                                                      2. I routinely find the Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc at Cork n' Bottle on the Upper East Side (First Ave between 64th and 63rd). It's typically sold at 2 for $15.

                                                        1. Cloudy Bay is the equivalent of Kendall Jackson. While not bad it really isn't anything to get excited about. One poster mentioned Craggy Ridge which I whole-heartedly agree with. But try and find Dog Point. It is, at $15ish a bottle, worth searching out. It is a delicious SB that will make you smile!

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: LVI

                                                            equivalent to KJ? That is a bit over the top. Cloudy Bay at least tastes like wine.

                                                            1. re: redhookandrew

                                                              That comparison was NOT at all to disparage the quality of CB what so ever! As a matter of fact, some of KJ's wines are delicious. My point was that as more and more people discover CB and for that matter, Sauvignon Blanc, it becomes the wine that people ask for. Look what happened to Santa Margarita (again, I am not comparing quality but rather what happens when the public focuses on 1 name brand) and its price.

                                                              1. re: LVI

                                                                IMHO, in terms of quality, taste, structure, balance, complexity and craftmanship, Kendall Jackson SB cannot even be mentioned in the same breath as CB.

                                                                1. re: RCC

                                                                  Where in any of my post did I compare KJ SB to Cloudy Bay? What you seem to be missing is the fact that CB has become the KJ or Santa Margarita in terms of NAME RECOGNITION, NOT QUALITY. And I will state again, that some KJ wines are delicious (no I am not saying KJ SB is delicious, but rather SOME KJ wines) but I am not saying they make a good SB.
                                                                  And certainly do not take my word for it. If you go to the Robert Parker website and type in Kendall Jackson there are 50+, yes 50+ wines rated 90 points or higher. And while you should never rely on others for their opinion or rating on a wine, I do respect Mr. Parker for his opinions. And when he gives a rating of 90 or better (94 being the highest) on 50+ wines, I think it should be taken a little more seriously.

                                                          2. Visited the Blenheim area and actually tried many of the vineyards there. Cloudy Bay is OK but I find it over-priced and not as good as some of the others. My fav is Mudhouse but not sure if one can find it in the US. In HK, Mudhouse is served at the Ritz Carlton here in addition to Couldy Bay.

                                                            1. If you're really in love with NZ SB, then go there!!! Nothing beats a visit to Blenheim or Napier (just to mention a couple of the well known areas). The wine tasting experience was excellent - no charge for tastings - and quite unlike Napa and others in America. No point naming our favourites as they aren't available here either and frankly they were too numerous to list!

                                                              1. I have loved the Kim Crawford SB for quite a while now. This summer, I have also enjoyed the Nobilo and Babich SBs.

                                                                1. I never thought I could love white wine so much until I tasted NZ Marlborough SBs.

                                                                  My favorites are St Clair, Whitehaven and Kim Crawford. All vintage 2006. Nobilo isn't bad, but not as interesting, not as complex as the others. I just tried a bottle of Craggy Range (which, I now notice, isn't Marlborough but Martinborough). I'm not at all impressed. Tastes watery to me.

                                                                  What I love about the St Clair and Whitehaven are their (black) peppery after-taste with their incredible, fruit-filled bouquet. Just a joy to drink.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: bilbao58

                                                                    If you enjoy St. Clair, then pony up for some Wither Hills. Mount Nelson is just as enjoyable. Both are from the Marlborough.

                                                                  2. Kim Crawford. Great stuff.

                                                                    If you're lucky you can find it in the US for $12. I've seen it as high as $17. I consider $13-$14 a good price.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. OK, I'm biased as I first imported Isabel into the US when I was with Adventures in Wine, so feel free to take whatever grains of salt you deem necessary -- but my favorites are (alphabetically): Huia, Isabel, Kathy Lynskey, Allan Scott, Seresin.

                                                                      Cloudy Bay, IMHO, used to be much better than it presently is.


                                                                      1. The one I drink most often is Babich. At 1/3 the price of Cloudy Bay, I think it gives the more expensive one a real run for its money!

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                          oooh, good one. i forgot about babich...thanks for the reminder! cloudy bay is getting awfully pricey these days when there are so may other inexpensive options now.

                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            OKay, my fav sauvs are from Malboruough (I'm in the US).
                                                                            Allan Scott, Kim Crawford are great...Giesen ROCKS!! (great gooseberrry and a party in your mouth).

                                                                            If you're in the midwest try Napa Ridge Sauv for around 10.99 - other areas the price might vary,.


                                                                        2. has anyone had 2007 vintage kim crawford sauvignon blanc yet? i saw them for sale at costco last week but didn't pick up a bottle. strange to see 2007 on any wine label already.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: zack

                                                                            giesen, babich, kim crawford & other marlborough wineries have all released the 2007 vintage already, and there are some chilean ones out as well.

                                                                          2. Isabel and Nobilo Icon are my favorites, but you cannot beat Kim Crawford for value.

                                                                            Cloudy Bay... I just feel I am paying for the name. I would put it in the same class as Isabel and Nobilo Icon, but it is too expensive for what it is. And I agree with Zin that it is not as good as it used to be.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: whiner

                                                                              it's like what happened with santa margherita pinot grigio before everyone decided it was their favorite 'bargain.' hardly so anymore at an average of 19 bucks a bottle. $19? come on! it was often my default choice for a safe, boring, affordable white. sure, it's better than sutter home white zin, but not exactly exciting. plus, the quality really declined a few years ago...coincidentally, right around the time they jacked up the price.

                                                                              slightly off-topic...keeping with my pinot grigio tangent...anyone had livio felluga? it's extremely tough to find, but my absolute favorite. highly recommend trying it if you have the chance.

                                                                            2. Just tried the 2006 Villa Maria and it blew me away for $10.99 a bottle.

                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                excellent, thanks for the rec. loved their 2005 pinot noir...ii'll definitely try the sb.

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  Was funny, after the salt thread ;-) was looking to see what else you had posted on, in the process I had opend a bottle of SB; I was literally smacking my licking my lips going "darn this is a remarkable wine for small money, got to figure out where I bought it."

                                                                                  It was the 2006 Villa Maria.

                                                                                  Pretty much a goodhealthgourmet myself in my home cooking here in Boston.

                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                    well i don't know if this has been your experience, but people are typically pretty skeptical that the concepts of 'good health' & 'gourmet' can successfully coexist...that is, until they taste my food :)

                                                                                    ok, back to the topic at hand...have you ever tried 'monkey bay' sauvignon blanc? they were selling it at whole foods for $9.99 [i think], and apparently it's from the cloudy bay region. i've been wondering if it's any good, but something about that bizarre green monkey on the label always keeps me from committing to the purchase.

                                                                                    btw, re: your post about the eat local challenge [yes, i did some of my own sleuthing]...bravo. i'm surprised no one replied.

                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                      2006 Martinborough Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Te Tera - $11.99
                                                                                      2005 Shepherds Ridge Sauvignon Blanc - $11
                                                                                      2005 Babich Sauvignon Blanc - $12.99
                                                                                      2005 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc - $11.99
                                                                                      2005 Coopers Creek Sauvignon Blanc - $8.99

                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                        Thank you. Again, take my food pretty seriously.

                                                                                        With regard to wine... don't you know the number one rule:

                                                                                        - Never buy wine with cute animals on the bottle ;-)

                                                                                        Seriously a real wine freak I know swears by that statement. Means they are spending too much time on marketing and an appealing package. Not sure I agree one way or the other, but think it is funny as heck.

                                                                                        I cook a wide variety of stuff, but at home do the vegan monk thing at least 2-3 days a week. Then I head out for some bbq.

                                                                                        Shoot me an e-mail if you want to schmooze more about healthy tasty cooking: aramsalzman at yahoo dot com

                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy


                                                                                          Nix the monkey rule, check.

                                                                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                          Don't worry about the monkey (he's actually kinda cute, dontcha think?) :)
                                                                                          Monkey Bay is another one of my favs - and great value for the price.

                                                                                          1. re: jdubwhit

                                                                                            actually, i think he's kinda creepy!

                                                                                            but maybe i'll pick up a bottle if i see it at whole foods again.

                                                                                            1. re: jdubwhit

                                                                                              Despite the "critters" rule, i've tried Monkey Bay and it's really not too bad....I think i bought it because it was cheap and I wanted to cook with it, but wound up drinking most of it.

                                                                                    2. My favorite is Huia, hands down. Huia prides itself on making food-friendly wines, and it's one of my go to wines when grabbing a bottle to go with a lighter dinner. (They also make a very nice and inexpensive Chardonnay, but not for the export market.)

                                                                                      I also really like Dogpoint (which is made by Cloudy Bay's former winemaker), Highfield, and Allan Scott.

                                                                                      I'm not a huge fan of Cloudy Bay's standard Sauvignon Blanc, but they make an oaked Sauv called "Te KoKo" that is out of this world (and very expensive by NZ SB standards).

                                                                                      1. Another vote for Kim Crawford... also love their unoaked chard.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: wino22

                                                                                          i was JUST reading about it last night, and wondering how it is. the latest issue of bon appetit recommends it as a good white to pair with thanksgiving meals.

                                                                                          i can't stand a lot of oak in my wine so i always have a problem finding chard that i like. this one sounds great to me...and now that i have the thumbs-up from a fellow hound i'll have to try it.