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New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Fresh Chilled Seafood Salad

Welcome back to Wine:30, season three. We begin this year with a close-up look at one of the most famous of the New World wine regions, New Zealand’s Marlborough appellation. Located on the northeastern part of the South Island, Marlborough produces almost 60 percent of the total country’s wine production. The climate there is a perfect setting for growing Sauvignon Blanc, along with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The Marlborough area is located in one of the sunniest parts of New Zealand, with temperatures that are moderated with cool breezes from the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean that reduce the night temperatures. This combination of sunny days and cool nights, coupled with the windy trends in the area help extend the growing season late into the fall (March through May). With an extended fall season, the delay in maturity of the grapes leads to more aromatic flavors in the wines here that give Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs their unique intensity of herbal and tropical flavors, along with higher levels of acidity.

This week we are looking at a small vineyard in the southeastern part of Marlborough, Barker’s Marque Vineyards. Nestled between the bluffs of the Blind River in the Awatere Valley, and the Pacific Ocean which is less than a mile away, this small vineyard, (less than 100 acres), produces three very distinct styles of Sauvignon Blanc. The micro-climate of the vineyard expresses the region well. The soil here is a heavier, almost stone free clay that holds water in the ground for the root system. The ocean winds blow in on the vineyard to keep the vineyard cool and dry, which also helps keep the vines less prone to disease. This allows the wine makers to produce wines that have minimal intervention between the vine and the finished wine.

We tasted all three Sauvignon Blancs from the vineyard and although there were indeed distinct differences, there was a flowing continuation of New Zealand style underneath: lush fruit, intense flavor and good acidity.

Ranga Ranga Marlborough 2010
Appearance: very pale straw color
Aroma: gooseberry, fresh limes and fresh mowed grass
Flavors: grapefruit, green apple, lemon-grass with underlying river stone accents
Finishing Notes: typical Marlborough style Sauvignon Blanc, with crisp acidity and a refreshing finish

Arona Marlborough 2010
Appearance: very pale straw color
Aroma: passion fruit, pineapple and grapefruit
Flavors: tropical fruits continue to palate with lemon, lime and a fresh mineral undertone
Finishing Notes: a zingy acidity with the tropical fruit flavors clinging to a long, lush finish

3 Brooms Muritai Single Vineyard 2010
Appearance: pale straw color with a hint of gold
Aroma: tangerine blossom and lemon meringue notes with hints of gooseberry and citrus
Flavors: lemon peel and a nice balance between tropical tones and grassy mineral notes
Finishing Notes: very balanced comparison from the Ranga Ranga and the Arona that carries notes from both of the other two styles in a more complex showing

Food Pairing:
All three of these Sauvignon Blancs, while different in subtle characteristic styles, all show the true varietal expressions of Marlborough. This style of the varietal makes them great food wines. We would pair any of these wines with any or all of the following:
– dishes emphasized with fresh herbs
– any salad or dish finished with a vinaigrette dressing
– more acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes, citrus, olives, capers, zucchini and yellow squash
– light cream or butter based sauces
– oysters, shellfish or swordfish
– most cheeses

Perfect Pairing:
Fresh chilled seafood salad with squid, shrimp, mussels, and clams tossed with celery and chopped parsley in a little lemon juice with black and red pepper

Weekly Wine Game: Trivia
Which area of New Zealand is the largest producer of Red wine?
a. Northland
b. Hawkes Bay
c. Marlborough
d. Central Otago
Email your guess to Karl & Jody at [email protected]. The first correct answer in their inbox will receive a complimentary bottle of wine from them. Cheers!

WINE:30 is written by Karl Bradley and Jody Wuollett. Karl and Jody are both long time residents of Door County and are employed at the Mission Grille in Sister Bay. They have both been awarded the first level of certification from the Court of the Master Sommeliers.