Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts which aim to broaden your drinking horizons and give alternatives to some popular varieties and regions. We hope we can enable you to step away from your old favourites, safe in the knowledge that these wines will be in the same ballpark as those you know and love, and still allow you to change things up.
As some of you may or may not already know, it’s looking likely that we’ll see a shortage of one of the country's most beloved wines this year. Marlborough has reported around 30% less Sauvignon Blanc was harvested in 2021 and there’s very little 2020 stock still around to plug the shortfall. Frosts in springtime did a chunk of the damage, but then extreme draught in the three months leading up to harvest meant yields were heavily affected in one of the worlds most popular wine regions.
With this in mind, along with our overarching vision of introducing people to new wines, we thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase some alternatives to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from around the world.
We’ve chosen six wines, each sharing some similarities with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and because they’re similar in style they all make a great match for food - particularly seafood, BBQ-grilled fish, sushi or fresh shellfish.
We’ve even collated them into a 6 bottle mixed wine case so you can try them all. (You can purchase that here.)
Albarino from Rias Baixas in Spain shares the same zippy citrus peel and lively acidity that you’ll find in NZ SB - a refreshing, crisp dry white that’s an ideal pairing with seafood. The speciality in Galicia is Octopus grilled and sprinkled with paprika.
Verdejo is Rueda’s premier variety and has a fantastic peachy aroma, along with cut grass and fresh citrus fruit. It shares the minerality of NZ SB and the acidity is well integrated with the fruit to create a clean finish. Verdejo makes a perfect pairing for fish taco's bursting with fresh lime juice and creamy avocado.
Vinho verde is possibly Portugal’s best know white wine, a blend of Avesso, Arinto, Azal and Loureiro. Not unlike NZ SB it’s bursting with tropical fruits with added lemongrass and a refreshing minerality on the finish.
Potentially the most unusual grape variety of the bunch, Gruner Veltliner is Austria’s premium white grape variety and here Ecker have captured that zingy citrus fruit and starburst like acidity to create a light, easy drinking white that you’re sure to enjoy. Gruner pairs brilliantly with poultry so try whipping up some of the local cuisine - Austrian Schnitzel would work brilliantly.
Gros Mensang is mostly associated with dessert wine, however when fermented dry like this it’s full of freshly squeezed lemon juice and tangerine flavours. It has that crisp, dry finish often found in NZ SB and is the perfect wine for a midweek glass in the garden.
We felt we had to put at least one Sauvignon on the list, so we decided to go to South Africa for it. Iona are located in Elgin, a region famed for Sauvignon in its own right. Here you get a delightful mix of tropical fruits and subtle lime and gooseberry citrus, making it a great counterpart to NZ SB.