James Healy and Ivan Sutherland know good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. But nobody really cares.
Didier Dagueneau’s challenging Pouilly Fuisse Silex, sales or Haut Brion’s Bordeaux Blanc, rx or maybe even Merry Edward’s 96 Point Green Valley Sauvignon – these, sickness these wines are great Sauvignon Blanc; surpassing the boundaries of a “simple” Sauvignon to become some much more, like a Picasso framing a child in multiple dimensions on the same canvas: a great work accomplished via simple means.
New Zealand’s Sauvignon efforts are no longer mentioned alongside these luminaries because of the now-vast quantities of swinish, dubious knock-off Sauvignon. As a consequence, truly expressive New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is pushed out and forgotten, tossed into the river of ubiquitous industrial beverages produced to fill the vast slop-barrel of foreign thirst.
This isn’t the way it should be. Well-made, site-specific New Zealand Sauvignon is one of the tastiest wines in the world, equal in measure to anything from the Loire, Bordeaux, Friuli, or Russian River. And Healy and Sutherland know this because they have made, and continue to make, archetypical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. And you should care.
In the late 1980’s, the cool-climate region of Marlborough on the southern island of New Zealand produced Sauvignon smelling of cat piss and ammonia. Nowadays, every winery from Bordeaux to the BFE claims to “make wine in the vineyard” from “the best grapes” planted in “the greatest vineyards” and probably in “the best of all possible worlds”. But back in the 80s, NZ wasn’t the best of all possible worlds.
Turning back the clock to 1985; at a winery called Cloudy Bay in Marlborough, Healy and Sutherland put into practice Dr. Richard Smart’s pioneering research into methoxypyrazines and canopy management. Using Dr. Smart’s research, their brains, and raw sweat, Healy and Sutherland cropped their vines low and raised their trellises high to expose the fruit to the sun, pushing the grapes into ripe, tropical flavors of pineapple, mango and papaya. And we know these flavors well – they are the flavors of New Zealand Sauvignon.
And suddenly, from a country whose pervious agricultural export of note was the kiwi fruit, the world could not have enough of their Sauvignon Blanc. Demand ran high so every swindler with a spade or a hoe started banging out a Sauvignon Blanc. And if everyone is making one then anyone’s the same as the next one so why not choose the cheapest?
Why not indeed.
I did mention cat urine earlier, didn’t I?
The imitators – that unrelenting sea of swill sailing under the title of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are not the real thing. Dog Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc is the real thing.
Dog Point Vineyard (note Dog, not Cat) may sound like a funny name but it references a specific site, as well as harkens back to the early careers of Healy and Sutherland. The vineyards of Dog Point are the oldest in Marlborough and named after a spot where sheep-dogs congregated (Marlborough was once sheep country). By drawing on their early vineyard experience, Healy and Sutherland have now created a Sauvignon Blanc of such vibrant fruit and textural elegance that you deserve to taste it.
Dog Point Vineyard’s Sauvignon Blanc announces its vibrant fruit from the moment the bottle is opened. The classic Marlborough scents of pink grapefruit, tangerine, and passion fruit come bursting out of the glass. But unlike other New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs the wine doesn’t stop there. Layer upon layer of aromas follow, ranging from candied ginger to papaya. The palate is citrusy, vigorous and refreshing. The wine’s luscious fruit character drives the front of the palate but the finish leaves a Loire-like kiss of such evocative minerality and poise that its’ sensual, lees, sweet croissant flavors last almost a minute after the wine first touches your lips.
Not all New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the same. Some are better than others, and Dog Point Vineyard is world class.
2008 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc
Suggested List Price: $22.99
Special price via this email: $16.99
We will taste this wine Friday and Saturday.
All orders must be secured with a name, credit card number, and phone number. All orders will be available at the time of purchase. Half case (5%) and full case discounts (10%) do apply to this special offer.
When the wine is ordered your credit card will be charged. The wine will be held in climate controlled conditions until you are ready to pick it up, free of charge. Offer is good while supplies last.
This piece was edited by our “Sir Winston Churchill” of the editing desk, Tim Hansen.