New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc review
Wine review of 5 New Zealand Sauvignon blanc white wines from Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Waitrose. Including one from the leading brand Ned. Each wine will be blind tasted by our panel and given a winehack rating, helping you to choose the best supermarket wine.
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc...
While some norms evolve some are ever-present. Whilst writing this sitting in a café the dulcet tones of Ed Sheerans “the shape of you” blend into the next track from Nora Jones, it certainly appears that the melodic easy pleasing style is something that seems to accompany you in most public places these days. The idea that it’s generally approved of and more importantly inoffensive has captivated the retail and café culture vibe in the same way that Marlborough Sauvignon blanc has emerged as the go to choice for a white wine upgrade from the ever more tricky house wine. So why has this traditionally French grape, taken such a hold in the UK? If you would like to know more about the differences between old and new world sauvignon blanc, click to see our article.
Well during the 1980’s two events helped shaped the future of this hugely popular varietal. Firstly there was a huge amount of over production in New Zealand wine, the government even paid vineyard owners to dig out their existing vines, many of which were Chenin Blanc. Quite a few of them then chose to plant Sauvignon Blanc vines instead as they were much more profitable. The second was the Phylloxera outbreak which destroyed many vines and again these had to be replaced by resistant vines, many of which were Sauvignon Blanc. So that explains why NZ started becoming a Sauvignon producer, but not why it became part of our everyday life. Cloudy Bay is unquestionably the ground zero for this rise to fame. Founded in 1985 it became the first vineyard to offer a super-premium product in the style emulated so heavily in the region today. Those distinctive fresh and intense flavours oozing gooseberry, lime and herbs took the wine world by storm. It was one of the first New Zealand wines to be exported and came in small batches that were allocated again in small amounts, which also drove up the demand and appeal to the restaurant customer. Other Marlborough Sauvignons began to flood into the UK, often from much larger vineyards like Villa Maria, bringing the price down to more affordable levels. Still it was the magic of Cloudy Bay that really drove the market. The key selling point was its tropical flavour profile that was a million times more intense than the French alternatives. This helped make a whole of Marlborough’s offering almost a brand in its own right. It was also far removed from the overly oaked wines that the new world was producing at the time. People began asking for a Marlborough Sauvignon like it was all one and the same, restaurants would place it as an upgrade on their wine lists, and just like Ed Sheeran it became a part of our everyday lives.
The blind wine tasting...
5 wines again this time with 5 tasters. Once again we plumped for a range around the £10 mark. 4 own brand offerings from Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose and Morrisons, plus one popular brand in the form of Ned which was available across a majority of the stores.
Classic flavours that are associated with New Zealand Sauvignon blanc are…
- Tropical fruits
- Cut grass
As per the wine hack blind tasting rules all the bottles were fully covered so no one knew which they were tasting or in what order. So how did the wines compare?
Smell Lemon meringue meets grapefruit
Taste Buttery peach and ginger. Fresh as a daisy
Finish Long finish but soft and friendly
Buy this if… you want the best of the bunch based on our palates, it’s a fresh but aromatic SB
Smell Honeycomb on the horizon. Gentle
Taste Some acidity but very drinkable – a mildly enraged lemon
Finish Classy finish, lengthy yet tart
£8 (On offer for £7 at the time of writing)
Buy this if… you want a little more acidity and slightly longer finish. We enjoyed this as a very pleasant and cheaper alternative to the Waitrose bottle
Smell Like Andrex – soft but strong
Taste Grassy and damp cavey
Finish Slightly irritatingly short
£9.50 (On offer for £7 at Tesco at the time of writing)
Buy this if… you want something more minerally, although it still comes with a trade mark NZ bright acidity. We’d probably err on paying the extra for the Waitrose bottle if this is at full price but if discounted, which it often is, it’s a good buy
Smell Strong and hard
Taste Green apple and ginger, slightly spicey. A bit too acidic and bright
Finish Long but not too acidic this time and tapers. Divided opinion
£8 (On offer for £6.50 at the time of writing)
Buy this if… you want a passable Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, this one was a bit more controversial with a wider range of scores, certainly felt overall less accomplished that the others higher up
Smell Heavy mellow cat’s pee
Taste Sour but unbalanced and acidic. Or according to Ben ‘nonsense’
Finish ‘Like licking a battery’ was mentioned, perhaps a tad harsh but it does have a slightly artificial element to it
Buy this if… you are in Morrisons (Sorry Morrisons) and can’t find a bottle of the Ned (which they sell) particularly if it’s on offer! And even then we’d suggest looking for another winery such as Villa Maria if available
With thanks to our 3 guest tasters Catherine, Nick and Andrea who joined the wine hack team for our second blind tasting