Cuisine Wine

NZ Sauvignon Blanc Tasting results

12 December 2016 (Cuisine magazine Issue 180)

ACID TEST. A late vintage caused issues for some in 2016, but enough top wines emerged to leave the panel impressed, writes JOHN SAKER.

Acidity is Sauvignon Blanc’s rhythm section. It supplies the wine with line and energy, as well as serving as a counterweight to the sweet fruit riffs.

Like a grape’s other elements, acids need to ripen. It seems that achieving that riper, soft acidity was something of a challenge in Marlborough in 2016.

“We had to wait for it to happen,” explained tasting panel judge Helen Morrison.

“It was a late vintage – a little scary it was so late – but the rain did hold off and we picked fruit when we wanted, with the acidity we wanted.” For those who didn’t wait and picked earlier, the results were different.

“In a number of wines at this tasting, the acidity was a little spiky and lacking ripeness,” noted tasting panel chair Ben Glover.

“But overall, we saw some excellent wines emerge, especially from the more experienced producers.”


For this sauvignon blanc tasting, our regular Cuisine tasting panel chair John Belsham was in Australia judging a wine show. Taking his place leading the panel was Ben Glover, an international wine judge, Chair of Pinot Noir NZ 2017 and owner-winemaker at Glover Family Vineyards.

Ben was joined by Helen Morrison, senior Marlborough winemaker at Villa Maria, and John Saker, author and Cuisine wine writer.

Top 10 NZ Sauvignon Blanc

Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Marlborough)

Behind some lively aromatic ‘green’ pyrotechnics (coriander, lime zest), sits a wine of substance. “There’s weight and length to the palate,” noted Ben Glover. Typically (for a Villa Reserve sauvignon), soft yet focused acidity underpins a brilliant array of flavours – lime cordial,
sage, briny seashell notes, with a dab of sweetness providing extra colour. There’s bigness here, but presented in a delicate package. Try it with a salmon gravlax.

| $27
→ more 1 View All Results in the Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Marlborough) Tasting

Star ratings for this tasting

» How ratings work

  • Outstanding 9
  • Excellent 4
  • Very Good 18
  • Good 56
  • No Award 57
  • Total Entries 144