New Zealand has ten wine growing regions, each producing numerous varietals of both red and white wines. Yet when thinking of wine from New Zealand, usually the first one that comes to mind is Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region. Virtually unknown until the 1990’s, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc rapidly increased in popularity during this time, known to many for a time as the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world, and one of the most popular white wines around.
This popularity and respect translated into a requirement for us to find a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for a recent wine tasting Erin and I prepared for a wine education course we are finishing up. This tasting consisted of five iconic wines, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, California Chardonnay, German Riesling, Napa Valley Cabernet and a Pinot Noir from Oregon. Needing to find five bottles of wine at short notice and not wanting to break the bank in the process, we made a run to our nearby Costco to see what they had to offer in these. We managed, in fact, to put together a fine tasting with wines purchased there, including perhaps the best of the bunch, a Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from Marlborough, New Zealand.
The 2008 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc was a delightfully crisp wine with a beautiful nose of tropical fruits, most notably passionfruit and pineapple. The taste was mostly tropical citrus, with crisp acidity. A wonderfully produced Sauvignon Blanc.
Cloudy Bay Vineyards was established in 1985 by Cape Mentelle Vineyards of Western Australia, and is now part of the luxury goods giant Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessey (Estates & Wines). They focus on producing wines best suited for the climate and terroir of the Wairau Valley in Marlborough. The climate of Marlborough, located on the northern end of the South Island, is cool with long hours of sunshine, the most of any spot in New Zealand. In addition to Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudy Bay also grows Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with small lot productions of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. The winery takes its name from nearby Cloudy Bay, at the eastern edge of the Wairau Valley, discovered by Captain Cook on his voyage in 1770.
Erin and I are planning to visit New Zealand later this year, and part of our journey will include a visit to the wine regions of the country. Our tour of New Zealand wine country would not be complete without a visit to Marlborough, and Cloudy Bay Vineyards. In fact, there is an entire Marlborough wine trail with over 40 wineries we are hoping to tackle. The Marlborough region is located on the South Island, approximately 300km North of Christchurch, New Zealand on State Highway 1, and can be reached by car or the local regional airport.
Cloudy Bay is open daily from 10AM to 5PM (except Good Friday and Christmas Day). For more information, please visit the Cloudy Bay Vineyards site. To find out more about activities, food and lodging in the area, check out the Marlborough Wine Region website.