5 Outstanding New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs

by Wilfred Wong  |  03.11.2022

In June 1995, after becoming Beverages & More’s first Imported Wine Buyer, the world of wine opened for me globally and I began finding myself traveling to nearly all of the most prominent wine producing regions in the world. My first trip to New Zealand was an invitation to judge in the 2005 International Chardonnay Challenge in Auckland. The trip included winery visits and learning the local culture. Back in the United States, the journey to learn and understand New Zealand wines was just beginning.

As a longtime judge for the San Francisco International Wine Competition, I have often found New Zealand wines on my panels adding to more experiences and understanding from this country that continues to excite the palate. In the 2019 and 2020 competitions, New Zealand performed exceedingly well. Five wines from the Gold and Double Gold Medals awarded scored well in my notebooks—from the judging or at other industry or personal tastings. I hope you will have an opportunity to try them all.

Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Ever since visiting the winery in 2015, I have paid attention to their excellent and consistent work. This is crisp and fresh and offers aromas and flavors of tart citrus that stay long into the wine’s finish.

Drink this with unadorned shellfish dishes like ceviche or fresh salmon sashimi.

Babich Black Label Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018

This wine is a star. Its aromas and flavors are riveting and persistent. Dried herbs and tart citrus stay long and al dente on the palate.

Pair this with raw oysters with generous squirts of lemon, lime-accented grilled scallops, or steamed mussels.

Brancott Estate Flight Song Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020

This is lively wine. Not made for those who want power and weight. It is well-balanced and bright leaving a decidedly tangy impression on the palate.

Pour a glass of this to accompany linguine with clams in a lemon, black pepper, wine reduction sauce. Or try it with steamed Dungeness crab without sauce or panko-coated, pan-fried Dover sole.

Stoneleigh Wild Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Loaded with flavors, this wine is herbal, pungent, and long. Shows weight on the palate.

This will work perfectly with a shellfish platter with liberal sprinkling of lemon and twists of whole black peppercorns, steamed bass in black bean sauce, or garlic and ginger Dungeness crab.

Wairau River Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Fresh and exhilarating in its aromas, this wine is nicely satisfying on the palate, and almost smooth in the aftertaste.

Open a bottle for a seafood salad with baby spinach, arugula, and Thai basil. Or try it with raw shrimp sashimi or steamed clams in a piquant garlic, lemon, and wine reduction broth.