The top 25 sauvignon blancs of 2017

by Michael Cooper / 24 November, 2017
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With strong, herbaceous aromas and garden-fresh flavours, the sauvignon blancs from the current vintage have vivid varietal characteristics. As a result of exceptionally heavy rain in early April – the main harvest month – 2017 will go down as a “challenging” year, but currently the wines have lots of youthful impact. Those featured here stand out for quality, value or both.

Black Cottage Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

This good-value wine was grown in the Wairau and Awatere valleys. Full of drink-young appeal, it is medium bodied (12.5% alc/vol), with finely balanced melon/lime flavours, a hint of passionfruit, good depth and a dry finish. (From Two Rivers.) $18

Blind River Awatere Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

Already drinking well, with a punchy, aromatic bouquet, this single-vineyard wine was partly (10%) barrel-fermented. It’s a mouthfilling (13% alc/vol), lively, smooth wine with melon, lime and capsicum flavours, a slightly “salty” streak and a distinct touch of complexity. $25

Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

Descended from the region’s first sauvignon blanc – Montana 1979 – this huge-volume, well-priced wine is aromatic and medium bodied (12.5% alc/vol), with strong, freshly herbaceous flavours of melons and green capsicums, lively and well balanced for early drinking. $17

Caythorpe Family Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

Grown in the “heart of the Wairau Plains”, this clearly herbaceous wine has a strong presence. Fresh, aromatic, tangy and lively, it is medium-bodied (12.5% alc/vol), with good intensity of gooseberry and green-capsicum flavours, dry and crisp. $20

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••½

From a tough growing season, the new release of this country’s most internationally acclaimed wine is scented, mouthfilling (13% alc/vol) and tightly structured, with strong, vigorous passionfruit and lime flavours, woven with steely acidity, and obvious potential. Slightly austere in its infancy, it needs time; open mid-2018-plus. $37

Delegat Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

Strongly scented, this elegant, medium-bodied wine (12.5% alc/vol) has vibrant, pure melon and green-capsicum flavours, penetrating, dry and zingy. $20

Dog Point Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

Certified organic, this is a ripely aromatic, medium-bodied wine (12.5% alc/vol), vibrantly fruity and tightly structured, with strong, crisp melon/lime flavours, a hint of passionfruit, a distinct touch of complexity and a dry, tangy finish. $26

Eradus Awatere Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

Crisp and punchy, this medium- to full-bodied wine (13% alc/vol) has freshly herbaceous melon, lime and green-capsicum flavours and an aromatic, strongly varietal bouquet. $19

Greenhough Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

This lively wine was mostly handled in tanks, but 15% of the blend was barrel-fermented. Certified organic, it is aromatic and full-bodied (13% alc/vol), with good depth of tropical-fruit and herbaceous flavours, showing a distinct touch of complexity, and a dry, lingering finish. $22

Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••½

From Kevin Judd, ex-Cloudy Bay, this punchy, mouthfilling wine (13% alc/vol) was grown in the central Wairau Valley and the Southern Valleys. It shows good weight and intensity, with crisp acidity woven through its vibrant melon, passionfruit and lime flavours, and is dry and persistent. $26

Invivo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

Priced right, this is a fresh, crisp, medium-bodied wine (12.5% alc/vol) with good depth of lively melon, lime and capsicum flavours, basically dry but finely balanced for easy drinking. $19

Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

This fresh, vibrant wine was partly (7%) barrel-fermented. Bright, light lemon/green, it is medium to full bodied (12.5% alc/vol), with good intensity of melon and green-capsicum flavours, a hint of passionfruit, a distinct touch of complexity and a dry, lasting finish. $20

Left Field Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

Offering good value, this vivacious, medium-bodied wine (12% alc/vol) has punchy, freshly herbaceous flavours and a dry, finely balanced finish. (From Te Awa.) $18

Mission Vineyard Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

Estate-grown in the Awatere Valley, this vibrant, pale lemon/green wine shows good intensity of tropical-fruit and herbaceous flavours, with a slightly minerally streak and an appetisingly crisp, slightly off-dry, tangy finish. $20

Mount Brown Estates North Canterbury Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

Priced sharply, this Waipara wine is already drinking well. Medium bodied (12% alc/vol), it has fresh, herbal aromas and lively melon, lime and green-capsicum flavours, dryish and mouth-wateringly crisp. $16

Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

Bargain-priced, this fresh, medium-bodied wine (12.5% alc/vol) is lively, with good depth of pure melon and green-capsicum flavours, finely balanced for early drinking. $15

Pa Road Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

Estate-grown in the Wairau and Awatere valleys, this is a mouthfilling (13% alc/vol) wine, fresh and lively, with crisp acidity and good depth of melon, lime and green-capsicum flavours, dry and smooth. (From te Pā.) $18

Rapaura Springs Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

Offering fine value, this Wairau Valley wine is full bodied (13% alc/vol), with strong, ripe passionfruit and lime flavours, in a fleshy, dry style, vibrant, rich and well-rounded. It’s already drinking well. $19

Saint Clair Vicar’s Choice Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

Vicars, like many of us, will gladly worship a bargain. Drinking well from the start, this fresh, lively, medium-bodied wine (12.5% alc/vol) has ripely herbaceous flavours, finely balanced and showing good depth. $19

Starborough Family Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 •••½

From three company-owned sites in the Awatere and Wairau valleys, this mouthfilling wine (13% alc/vol) has fresh, vibrant melon/lime flavours in a clearly herbaceous style with a crisp, dry, lingering finish. $20

Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

From vineyards on the Golden Mile (Rapaura Rd, on the north side of the Wairau Valley), this wine shows excellent intensity and vigour. Bright, light lemon/green, it is ripely scented and full bodied (13.5% alc/vol), with strong, lively melon/lime flavours and a crisp, dry, lengthy finish. $23

Summerhouse Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••½

This is great value. Lively and full bodied (13% alc/vol), it has penetrating, vibrant melon, lime and capsicum flavours, showing a distinct touch of complexity, and a finely balanced, dry, lasting finish. $19

Two Rivers of Marlborough Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

Showing excellent freshness and delicacy, this wine was grown in the Awatere, Southern and Wairau valleys, and matured for three months on its yeast lees. It is mouthfilling (13% alc/vol) and crisp, with strong, citrusy, limey flavours, lively acidity and a long, dry finish. $24

Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

This huge-volume label offers top value. Highly aromatic, it is a crisp, medium-bodied wine (12.5% alc/vol) with strong, vibrant, tropical-fruit and herbaceous flavours, dry and finely balanced, and plenty of drink-young appeal. $16

Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Awatere Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ••••

Estate-grown near the coast, this medium- to full-bodied wine (12.5% alc/vol) has good depth of fresh, youthful melon, lime and green-capsicum flavours. A dry style, it has a touch of complexity and a persistent, appetisingly crisp finish. $23

This article was first published in the November 18, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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