By pure coincidence, I woke up on International Sauvignon Blanc Day in Marlborough, the world's most dynamic place to enjoy it. Since the first commercial sauvignon blanc vines were planted in the mid-1970s in this part of the country, the region has staked its claim on the world wine map as the capital of New World sauvignon blanc. Or perhaps that's the world capital, it depends who's doing the talking.
Four cellar door or tasting room visits, complete with lovely chats with winemakers, sparked a renewed appreciation for this variety, which can differ greatly depending on which sub-region the grapes are grown in, the winemaking style, and even how long the wine has been cellared (spoiler alert: yes, you can age a good sav!)
Rather than a cellar door at the winery, Whitehaven's tasting room is handily located in the hospo and activities hub of Vines Village. Founded by husband and wife team Greg and Sue White in 1994, Whitehaven has parcels of land and sources from contact growers in landscapes spanning the gamut of the region. As a special treat, winemaker Peter Jackson brought along samples of four different sauvignon blancs from the 2022 vintage, yet to be filtered or bottled – a taste sensation and great reminder of the importance of good fruit in winemaking. Sue White shared a little of her business's story as we tasted our way through several wines, alongside delectable platters of local charcuterie and cheeses. Moody Cow's "Sandon" – a white rind, ash-coated cow's cheese from a small local producer – is an absolute knock-out with sav.