Source: TORONTO SUN: By Christopher Waters ,QMI Agency
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 07:00 AM EDT
The fads and fashion of the world of wine have seen different grape varieties fall in and out of favour. Australian Shiraz enjoyed its reign as the world’s It-Grape before being cast as Paris Hilton to Argentina Malbec’s Kim Kardashian — from hottie to nottie.
Recently, fruity and fun Moscato has been gaining ground as one of the most fashionable white varieties at the liquor store, but it’s not quite the runaway success in Canada that it is in the United States.
All the while, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region has maintained its place in the spotlight. More than three decades after it rocketed to the attention of wine lovers around the world, the distinctively zesty and flavourful white shows no signs of wearing out its welcome.
For that, Whitehaven Wines owner Sue White is eternally thankful.
“It doesn’t go out of favour,” says White, who has successfully worked over the past three years to place her wines in stores across the country. “It’s quite refreshing. It’s quite unique.”
On a recent sales call to Japan, White and her daughter were part of a large tasting that included a number of fine French wines and other robust reds.
“We were one of the only white wines there, so many of them tried it,” she explains. “They might not have known Whitehaven, but they knew New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. So you hope that you can turn them on to drinking your wine…”
White and her late husband Greg founded Whitehaven near Blenheim in 1994. After Greg’s death in 2007, Sue took charge of the business and looked to develop global markets to ensure long-term success and stability. Along the way, she partnered with the Gallo family to avail herself of the company’s extensive sales and marketing clout.
For White, Sauvignon Blanc’s success isn’t something to take for grant. Whitehaven’s winemaking team pride themselves on using 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced exclusive from the Marlborough region. Winemaking rules allow winemakers to blend small percentages of different grapes and different regions, which was a real temptation for some in 2012 when faced with a smaller than anticipated harvest.
“We want to keep the quality of the flagship right up there — keep a really good wine out on the market,” says White, who is proud of the quality of the regular white label Sauvignon Blanc and the reserve wine, named Greg as a tribute to her husband.
She’s equally excited by the fact that Canadians are also able to enjoy the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris made at the family winery. Fingers crossed, she’ll be able to share her personal favourite, Chardonnay, with wine lovers.
“It’s nice to have a portfolio,” says White, who loves to broadcast all of the natural charms of her native New Zealand. “You want to show what you can do.”