When New Zealand's wine industry first gained international attention in the 1970s, it was through the Sauvignon Blanc wines of the Marlborough region, located at the northern tip of the country's South Island. More than thirty years later, viticulture in Kiwi land has expanded to new areas and different varietals. We're frequently intrigued, even impressed, by Pinot Noir from Martinborough and Otago. But Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough remains the country's signature wine.
This 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Mount Fishtail reminds us why. Originally from Germany, by way of Australia, the Hengstler family planted their first vines in Marlborough in 1996. Now with 40 hectares of land spread over two vineyards, their care in the vineyards allows them to take full advantage of the copious sunshine (2,500 hours per year) and cool nights. The result is a ripe but acidic Sauvignon Blanc that's never out of balance.
Brilliant, pale straw in color, this wine shows classic varietal notes of citrus and gooseberry on the nose, along with hints of more exotic fruits. On the palate, there's plenty of grapefruit and lush tropical fruit character, along with focused acidity. A touch of sweetness is detectable on the finish, which wraps things up nicely.
Pair this wine with delicate seafood. Shellfish is perfect, especially grilled scallops in a citrus-based marinade.