A Wine Lover’s Near Weekly Review Of $15 Wines – A Hawkes Bay, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Few countries have been as closely identified with a single grape variety as is New Zealand with its famous Sauvignon Blanc. Yet the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island is best known for Chardonnay and Merlot. The Matua Valley Winery, founded in 1974, was the first New Zealand winery to produce Sauvignon Blanc. It is now part of Treasury Wine Estates, formerly known as Foster’s, who also own those Australian giants Penfolds, Wolf Blass, and Lindemanns. Our companion wine is a Hungarian Sauvignon Blanc costing about two thirds as much. Few countries have been as closely identified with a single grape variety as is New Zealand with its famous Sauvignon Blanc. And yet the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island is best known for Chardonnay and Merlot. The Matua Valley Winery, founded in 1974, was the first New Zealand winery to produce Sauvignon Blanc. It is now part of Treasury Wine Estates, formerly known as Foster’s, who also own those Australian giants Penfolds, Wolf Blass, and Lindemanns. The companion wine is a Hungarian Sauvignon Blanc costing about two thirds as much.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed
Matua Valley Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2012 13 % alcohol $15.

Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. “Tasting Note : Pale straw colour; aromas and flavours of melon, gooseberry and pineapple, with citrus notes; dry, medium bodied, fresh, crisp and refreshing with lemon lime acidity; long and clean on the finish. Serving Suggestion : Serve with grilled fish or seafood.” And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine offered my palate gooseberries. It was oily and expressed delicious acidity. The main dish consisted of homemade chicken breast nuggets that managed to ramp up the libation’s acidity. It was long and floral. In the face of soybeans swimming in an oily tomato sauce my glass responded with great balance, fine acidity, and a tinge of sweetness. A medley of sauteed red and orange peppers made the liquid’s acidity predominate. Chinese chili sauce on the meat unexpectedly brought out that delicious sweetness associated with a fine German Riesling (among my favorites). Dessert was fresh pineapple. In response the wine was a little floral and slightly oily. It was long, light, and delicious.

The second meal came out of a box. It consisted of vegetarian stuffed manicotti with Ricotta and Mozzarella cheese in tomato sauce. I may have over nuked this goop; it was so soft as to be oppressive. In response the SB was powerful providing pleasant acidity and the taste of white grapefruit and tangerines. Fresh strawberries for dessert rendered our New Zealand friend sweet and woody but rather muted with a burnt taste.

The final meal centered on an omelet spiced up with cilantro, celery seed, and chilies. This libation came out long and somewhat syrupy with the taste of burnt oak. When faced with a lettuce, tomato, and celery salad in a honey mustard sauce the liquid’s acidity became relatvely unpleasant and dominated the other tastes. The zesty guacamole side imparted to my drink the taste of lemon peel and white grapefruit.

Final verdict. I would definitely buy this wine again. Unfortunately my supplier no longer carries this winery’s higher quality Sauvignon Blanc. Since I cut out the cheese reviews (does anyone even remember?) I don’t always finish my bottle. But believe me, not a single drop of this fine wine went down the sink. I’m getting a bottle for my wine club.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but definitely prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. Visit his Italian wine website www.theitalianwineconnection.com .

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