Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.


This review considers New Zealand sauvignon blancs.  In Issue No 1 of Cuisine,  I presented a review titled:  "Sauvignon Blanc Steals the Limelight".  That was in 1987.  Looking at a range of sauvignons in 2004,  one can only rejoice that Sauvignon Blanc is still doing exactly that.  The quality of the better wines in this review is stunning.  They are so much more complex than the wines of the 1980s.  In the very best,  oak use is so subtle as to be invisible.  And no grape in New Zealand is more versatile with food than good sauvignon.  Winemakers can be well pleased with the success of their efforts.  However,  the ever-earlier release of the current vintage sauvignons is to be deplored.  A wonderful nationwide wine industry and tourist festival could be created,  if 1 October were the first day on which current season sauvignons became available.  The wines would be so much better,  by then.  68 wines are reviewed,  ranging from sublime to awful.


2004  Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Amor-Bendall Sauvignon Blanc Gisborne
2004  Anchorage Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Beach House Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Benson Block Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Bladen Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Canadoro Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Cape Campbell Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Carrick Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
2001  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Te Koko
2004  Coopers Creek Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
2004  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Avery Vineyard
2004  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Old Renwick Vineyard
2004  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna Road
2004  Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Dusky Sound Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Fairmont Estate Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Framingham Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Gravitas Sauvignon Blanc
2003  Gravitas Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Isabel Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Kaituna Valley Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Kaituna Valley Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
2004  Kakapo Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Kevern Walker Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Lake Chalice Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Lake Hayes Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Lime Rock Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Loopline Sauvignon Blanc
  2003  Main Divide Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Martinborough Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Matahiwi Estate Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Mission Estate Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Montana Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Morton Estate Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay
2004  Morton Estate Sauvignon Blanc Stone Creek
2004  Murdoch James Sauvignon Blanc River Run
2004  Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc Nelson
2004  Peregrine Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
2004  Ra Nui Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Riverby Estate Sauvignon Blanc
2004  [ Te Mata ]  Rymer's Change Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Sanderson Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Seifried Sauvignon Blanc Winemakers Collection
2004  Seresin Sauvignon Blanc
2003  Seresin Sauvignon Blanc Marama
2004  Seven Terraces Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Shipwreck Bay Sauvignon Blanc
2003  Stonecroft Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Sunset Valley Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Te Mania Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Te Mata Sauvignon Blanc Woodthorpe
2004  Tohu Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Tohu Sauvignon Blanc Mugwi
2004  Torlesse Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Tylers Stream Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Vidal Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin
2004  Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Walnut Ridge Sauvignon Blanc
2004  White Rock Sauvignon Blanc
2004  Wishart Sauvignon Blanc

2004  Peregrine Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough   19  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. This wine is about as perfect on bouquet as pure Marlborough sauvignon can be: ripest red capsicums, sweetest honeysuckle, beautiful black passionfruit pulp, a hint of bouquet garni. Palate is equally as good, the flavours lengthening the bouquet magically, and adding sweet English gooseberries, on an elegant 'dry' finish balanced to perfect fruit sweetness. This wine must illustrate the kind of cropping rate that bespeaks grand cru quality, as opposed to a more commercial approach. Cellar to 10 years if older sauvignon flavours appeal. This will end up as the 1996 Cloudy Bay is now – perfect mature sauvignon.  VALUE  GK 10/04

2004  Isabel Sauvignon Blanc   19  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $25   [ 10% BF, LA, RS 4 g/L;  www.isabelestate.com ]
Palest lemongreen. Already a gorgeous and complex bouquet of sweetest and ripest sauvignon blanc, chockfull of elderflower and similar white florals on subtlest red capsicums and black passionfruit. Palate is more complex, great body, faintest hints of barrel ferment and oak as it should be used (if present) – (later inquiry confirms, yes), and the floral component persisting right through to the gentle but flavoursome 'dry' finish. Great Marlborough sauvignon. Cellar to 15 years, as preferred.  GK 11/04

2004  Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc   18 ½ +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $23   [ screwcap; mostly s/s, some wild yeast, RS 5 g/L;  www.dogpoint.co.nz ]
Lemongreen, beautiful. A voluminous ripe sauvignon bouquet of ripest red capsicum, black passionfruit and some honeysuckle florals, though the subtlety of the latter is a bit hidden by soft fragrant oak aromas. In addition there are attractive baguette / breadcrust lees autolysis complexities on bouquet, surprisingly so considering the lack of time in which to develop them. Palate is a little more austere than the bouquet promises, the apparent ripeness retreating slightly to remind of other colours of capsicum, plus fresh acid. Body, balance, and length in mouth in mouth are excellent – serious sauvignon at a serious cropping rate. This is a terrific subtly-oak-influenced New Zealand sauvignon in the subtle Mt Nelson style, commercially dry, which should cellar well for 5 – 10 years, perhaps longer.  GK 10/04

2004  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna Road   18 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $23   [ screwcap; c.20% BF, c.30% wild yeast, LA;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Pale lemongreen. Still youthful with some marrying-up to do, to reveal sweet ripe capsicum and black passionfruit varietal characters. Palate is rich, flavoursome, totally varietal, showing magnificent use of oak to optimise varietal character but not dominate it. This will cellar well, if desired.  GK 09/04

2004  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc   18 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $29   [ all s/s, 2 months LA;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. A vibrant young sauvignon bouquet, redolent of red capsicums and black passionfruit, and totally free of armpit. Vibrant is a euphemism for trace VA, which most people mark up at this level. Palate is fresh, wonderfully mild on low phenolics, and full of flavour already. For a six-month old wine to have so much flavour, the bottling sulphur must be very low. Not quite as finely tuned as the Peregrine or Isabel maybe, but another classic Cloudy Bay and Marlborough sauvignon. Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 10/04

2001  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Te Koko   18 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $36   [ 100% BF in French oak 10% new, 100% wild yeast, 100% MLF, c. 17 months LA in barrel;  www.cloudybay.co.nz ]
Medium lemon, a super colour. A huge bouquet, in the distinctive style which Te Koko has made all its own: something like a red capsicum, basil, chicken and citrus zest quiche. If one likes it, there is every shade of capsicum and passion fruit and mango, all made aromatic by barrel fermentation and charry from oak, with brie (+ve) suggestions from MLF, and further baguettey complexities from long lees autolysis. There is a savoury bouquet garni quality too. If one doesn't like it, there are strong aromatics redolent of hypoid oil, and aggressive oak – all this just on bouquet. Either way, the palate is extraordinarily rich for sauvignon, long, tactile from the 100% MLF, complex with flavours beyond description which linger on sauvignon acid and oak, finishing on black passionfruit. It is oaky, though. It has taken me a while to come round to the extroverted Te Koko style, but also, this latest release is less indulgent than some earlier ones, and better for that. A food wine par excellence, worth trying with all sorts of un-winey but savoury things – like quiche ! Cellar to 10 years, maybe longer.  GK 09/04

2004  Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $15   [ screwcap; 4.5 g/L;  www.villamaria.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen. Another clearcut sauvignon in the classic Marlborough style, red capsicums, black passionfruit, and honeysuckle. Palate is rich, very fruity, and long on black passionfruit skins. It seems a gram or two sweeter than some, about the max for 'dry', popular - but the analysis does not confirm that. Great fruit, therefore. Cellar 5 – 8 years as desired. VALUE  GK 11/04

2004  Te Mata Sauvignon Blanc Woodthorpe   18  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Pale lemon. A very ripe sweet sauvignon bouquet retaining some of the piquancy of red capsicum, but also introducing a riper spectrum of mango-like smells redolent of Hawkes Bay. Palate is fresh and firmly sauvignon. This could easily be a very ripe Marlborough wine taken up to the black passionfruit stage, but finishing slightly sweeter than the normal commercial dry, though still 'dry'. Versatile food wine. Cellar 3 – 5 years.  [ 1/05:  Feedback from the winemaker reveals this wine in fact analyses as nil fermentable sugar,  so the fruit weight is outstanding.  Model Hawkes Bay sauvignon.]  GK 11/04

2004  Fairmont Estate Sauvignon Blanc   18  ()
Gladstone, Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $17   [ screwcap;  www.handcraftedwines.com ]
Pale lemon. This is a soft mild bouquet for New Zealand sauvignon, more in the Hawkes Bay light fruit-salad style. Palate firms the wine up nicely, clearly sauvignon, ripe red capsicums and black passionfruit, attractive fruit richness, not bone dry. This is very drinkable, and should cellar well for up to 10 years.  GK 11/04

2004  Lake Chalice Sauvignon Blanc   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ Stelvin;  [ 18 ];  www.lakechalice.com ]
Palest lemongreen. Clean fragrant infantile Marlborough sauvignon blanc, with the keynote red peppers, honeysuckle and bouquet garni complexity implicit. Palate is as clean as a whistle, beautifully balanced, judging dry, looking good. This race to release the first sauvignon of the vintage is not serving the interests of the consumer, or New Zealand wine. This could be a gold medal wine in 6 months, when it should be released. Should cellar for a number of years.  GK 06/04

2004  Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  www.nautilusestate.com ]
Pale lemongreen. A youthful bouquet with light bottling sulphur to resolve, on fine Marlborough sauvignon fruit showing mixed capsicums and black passionfruit. Palate extends the bouquet attractively, no oak, judging dry though not as dry as some, simply copybook pure Marlborough sauvignon. Cellar 1 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Wishart Sauvignon Blanc   18  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $19   [ screwcap ]
Beautiful lemon. Bouquet is soft and nectariney, with scarcely perceptible ripest red capsicum complexing, plus black passionfruit, and subtlest new oak. Palate is gorgeous, but deceptive – it is not completely dry. Flavour is soft and rich, offering a very different face of sauvignon when compared with the intense Marlborough wines – mild and nectarine / peachy, but with the body of chardonnay. This example of the alternative riper Hawkes Bay sauvignon style could be a winner. Cellar to 10 years, if you like graceful mature sauvignon.  GK 08/04

2004  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Old Renwick Vineyard   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $22   [ screwcap;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Greenish water-white. Bouquet on this Craggy sauvignon is more subdued and milder than the Avery wine, showing ripest capsicum, nectarine and black passionfruit, plus a mineral quality one could interpret as faintest armpit. Palate is less affected by lees autolysis and other winemaker inputs than the Avery, and pure, rich, reddest capsicum and black passionfruit ripe sauvignon comes through, with fresh citric flavours, and an interesting flintiness balanced by a sweeter 'dry' finish than some. This is lovely wine which should cellar well, 5 – 10 years.  GK 09/04

2003  Main Divide Sauvignon Blanc   18  ()
Marlborough,  & Waipara, North Canterbury,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $20   [ SB 95%, 5 Se BF & LA, 4 g/L RS;  www.maindivide.com ]
Lemon. A voluminous and complex bouquet standing apart from most in the blind tasting. The actual smells are hard to characterise, but there is a distinctive mixed herbes component in mixed capsicums. Palate introduces new dimensions, the sauvignon now seemingly ripened to a melon and pepino level, noticeable oak influence, richer than many Marlborough wines, and more like some Hawkes Bay. Unusual and interesting sauvignon, which should cellar for 5 – 8 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Tohu Sauvignon Blanc   18  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ www.tohuwines.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen. Clean fragrant mild sauvignon ripened to a sweetly floral (honeysuckle) and gooseberry / black passionfruit bouquet, not as assertively red capsicum as many. Palate follows in the same style, beautifully mild yet plenty of flavour, sufficient richness to be satisfying, neither phenolic or acid, and not sweeter than commercial 'dry'. One could drink a lot of this. Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 12/04

2004  Coopers Creek Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $15   [ screwcap;  www.cooperscreek.co.nz ]
Palest lemongreen. Freshly opened, this wine has suggestions of armpit character, in red capsicums and black passionfruit. It breathes to fragrant Marlborough sauvignon with good fruit concentration, mild flavours, and a finish which is a bit sweeter than the average Marlborough wine – probably at the upper limit of commercial 'dry'. Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 10/04

2004  Tylers Stream Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $17   [ screwcap ]
Palest lemongreen. This is a lighter Marlborough sauvignon, with a sweet black passionfruit bouquet showing only traces of red capsicum complexities. Flavour is similar but adds a touch of citrus. Concentration isn't as good as the top wines, but it is attractive and very drinkable, commercially 'dry'. Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/04

2004  Cape Campbell Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap;  www.capecampbell.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen. A south of South Island style of sauvignon, reminiscent of Sancerre more than Marlborough. Bouquet shows nettle and English gooseberry fruit, slightly leafy. Palate however is rich, total gooseberry, very Sancerre, beautifully freerun, dry. Interesting wine which could cellar for 10 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Vidal Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $19   [ screwcap;  www.vidal.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen. Unequivocal ripe sauvignon blanc on bouquet: lots of red capsicums, black passionfruit and honeysuckle, plus some hints of barrel ferment and lees autolysis, and noticeable alcohol. Palate is rich and flavoursome, long, aromatic, slightly phenolic, crisp, commercially dry. For those who like their sauvignons with plenty of character, this could be a top wine. For others however, it is a too bold presentation of Marlborough sauvignon, the alcohol fights with subtler foods, and a milder wine such as the straight Tohu is easier to drink. Hard to score therefore. Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 12/04

2004  Martinborough Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $21   [ screwcap; c. 9% BF & LA in newish oak;  www.martinborough-vineyard.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen. Initially poured, faintly reductive, but clears quickly. Another clearly varietal wine, but in a slightly different accent. In addition to the ripest capsicum and honeysuckle notes, there is a hint of custard powder, and a hint of cut bean, suggesting some less ripe material. Palate shows the complexing effect of barrel ferment and oak, more apparent than the Craggy wine, but still subtle enough. Palate is long and flavoursome, finishing 'dry'. Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc Nelson   17 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $24   [ screwcap; 10% BF & LA oldest oak, 2.5 g/L RS;  www.neudorf.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. Bouquet shows ripe sauvignon complexed by oak aromatics, reminiscent of the Main Divide but subtler. In the black passionfruit there is a whisper of armpit, which should marry away. Palate is clearly oak-influenced, rich, long-flavoured, but with an awkward tomato-stalk suggestion just detectable. Like the Martinborough, a shadow of less-ripe fruit. The richness will make this good with food – not difficult given that sauvignon is the most food-friendly grape in New Zealand. Cellar a shorter time though, 1 – 3 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $16   [ screwcap ]
Pale lemongreen. Unequivocal Marlborough sauvignon, mixed capsicums and black passionfruit, already quite strong, but this year let down by a higher level of armpit than is optimal. Such wines sadly score gold medals, in New Zealand. The character should attenuate, in bottle. Palate has good fruit flavour and length, perhaps not quite so delightfully ripe as last year's wine, and fair body. Waghorn has set an enviable standard with his flavoursome, fairly-priced sauvignons, and this one is in the same style, apart from the reservation noted. Cellar several years.  GK 08/04

2004  Walnut Ridge Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap; all s/s, no MLF, 4 g/L RS;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen, lighter than the Ata Rangi home vineyards wine. This is a beautifully clean sauvignon, but all a notch less ripe than the estate wine. There are still good red capsicum and black passionfruit aromas, but suggestions of yellow and green ones too. Palate is a little sweeter, and the flavours not quite so complex and rich. A good representative 'dry' Marlborough sauvignon. Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Lime Rock Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $25   [ screwcap;  www.limerock.co.nz ]
Palest lemongreen. A slightly mineral or smoky version of a sauvignon bouquet, with fragrant red capsicum and lees autolysis complexities below. Palate is rich, with English gooseberry flavours coming into play amidst the red capsicum and black passionfruit. The mineral suggestions continue, and firm the wine up to produce a Sancerre-like flavour, but fractionally sweeter than the average. This should cellar attractively. 2004 is a very interesting vintage for aromatic varieties, in Hawkes Bay.  GK 11/04

2004  Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Avery Vineyard   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $22   [ screwcap;  www.craggyrange.com ]
Greenish water-white, paler than the Old Renwick. This sauvignon is not so sparklingly clear a varietal wine as New Zealand's best, smelling of very ripe fruit, plus a high-solids component drabbing it down. Palate however is another story, with good fruit weight, red gooseberries and red capsicum, lees autolysis complexities, and almost a bouquet garni suggestion. Drier than most wines, so not quite so smooth, and the alcohol seems higher than the given figure. Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Benson Block Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $17   [ screwcap ]
Palest lemongreen. Freshly opened, a trace of armpit and canned asparagus detracts. With plenty of air, freshens up to allow a good weight of beautifully ripe black passionfruit and red capsicum fruit to come through. Palate is rich, aromatic on the red capsicum, long, and flavoursome – bolder than the Isabel. Only the light armpit keeps it from a higher ranking, and that may dissipate in another six months or so. Cellar 1 – 3 to 4 years.  GK 11/04

2004  Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap; some Awatere fruit; prestige / heavy bottle ]
Palest lemongreen. Another ridiculously youthful current-vintage sauvignon, in this case smelling intensely nettly and mixed capsicums, reminiscent of some Sancerre styles but very pure. Palate continues in the same vein, austere yet rich, acid and undeveloped, a wine to appeal to European palates once it has developed sufficiently (12 months) to be fit to drink. Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 08/04

2004  Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap; estate-grown; 15% BF & LA in 4th-year oak, no MLF;  www.atarangi.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. A wine in two parts. Initially opened, bouquet is flattened by soft DMS-like odours, sacky as Cooks Chasseur used to be. In this instance, a downside of building complexity on lees autolysis, presumably. Aerated, pure sauvignon elderflower, reddest capsicum and black passionfruit emerge, with the positive side of lees autolysis – hints of baguette-like complexity. This is one of the richest sauvignons around, and with its weight, appropriate acid, and fruit sweetness, it will be great with food. Stylewise, it is literally midway between Marlborough and Hawkes Bay. Despite a query on bouquet, should cellar well for some years and bury that doubt, if mature sauvignons appeal.  GK 11/04

2004  Bladen Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ www.bladen.co.nz ]
Initially opened there is a whisper of youthful sur lie sulphur and armpit, clearing acceptably quickly to good Marlborough sauvignon ripened to the red capsicums and black passionfruit stage. Palate is richly flavoured, judging dry, little or no oak contribution, just pure sauvignon. This could score higher in six months. Cellar 1 – 5 years, or longer if desired.  GK 09/04

2004  Kaituna Valley Sauvignon Blanc Reserve   17 ½  ()
Awatere Valley, Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14.5%;  $22
Lemongreen. Clean very ripe sauvignon blanc ripened OTT, to give an aromatic red-peppers alone smell, almost sautéed. Some Marlborough attempts at sweet sauvignons have smelt like this, and it is an acquired taste. Palate follows accordingly, strongly flavoured, trace residual to lengthen it (but still 'dry'), quite spirity, but fine-grained. A bold style, getting hard to match with food due to the alcohol, but interesting. See notes on the standard Sauvignon. Would cellar, if desired.  GK 11/04

2004  Kevern Walker Sauvignon Blanc   17 ½  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13.8%;  $17
Lemongreen. Bouquet is mild but clearly varietal at the ripest red capsicum level, attractive and straightforward without the winemaking complexities of the highest-scoring wines. Fruit is equally ripe, with some nectarine undertones, and good concentration. The wine is surprisingly acid – as much as the White Rock, but it is better hidden by the fruit sweetness. The nectarine notes certainly suggest Hawkes Bay, but the total wine achievement is more Marlborough. This should be popular, and will cellar well, 5 – 8 years.  GK 10/04

2004  Tohu Sauvignon Blanc Mugwi   17 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $27   [ www.tohuwines.co.nz ]
Bright lemongreen, a lovely colour. This is a strong sauvignon, tending more to the style of the Vidal wine, but it is let down by some armpit character on bouquet. Palate shows big black passionfruit, red capsicum and honeysuckle flavours, a softer mouthfeel than the Vidal, and more character than its milder sibling, the straight Tohu. Finish seems a little sweeter than the straight wine, but may merely reflect lower total acid at the same residual. It is hard to accurately unravel all the interactions of wine flavour by taste alone. Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 12/04

2004  Seven Terraces Sauvignon Blanc   17 +  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $18   [ screwcap ]
Palest lemongreen. A pure sauvignon concentrated in the red capsicum and black passionfruit part of the flavour spectrum, but narrower than the top wines. Palate accentuates that trend, being a little firmer and crisper than the bouquet suggests, with a little green capsicum creeping in. Representative good Marlborough sauvignon, which will cellar for a few years.  GK 11/04

2004  Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $20   [ screwcap; 5% BF & LA old oak;  www.allanscott.com ]
Waterwhite. This wine is ripe to the point of being bland on bouquet, with vaguely nectarine fruits. Palate redeems it, still nectarine but with clean black passionfruit varietal fruit, suggestions of ripest capsicum, and good concentration and length, pretty well dry. This should develop in bottle and may well rank higher in a few months. A good food wine for those not so keen on sauvignon. Will cellar 5 – 8 years, as desired.  GK 09/04

2004  Seifried Sauvignon Blanc Winemakers Collection   17  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $20   [ screwcap;  www.seifried.co.nz ]
Palest lemon. A more traditional style of sauvignon, showing mixed colours of capsicum on bouquet, and some English gooseberries. Palate is tarter than some, the ratio of green capsicums increasing, but there are still suggestions of the sweet fruit of black passionfruit. There is some residual to ease the acid, but it is still probably 'dry'. Short term cellar only.  GK 11/04

2004  Seresin Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $24   [ screwcap; SB 97%, Se 3; 5% BF French oak;  www.seresin.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. A different slant on sauvignon, with the distinctive odour of a high-solids ferment adding complexity, but dulling varietal quality. Palate is more clearly varietal, reddest capsicum and black passionfruit, and the lees autolysis component has lengthened the flavour, and introduced a breadcrumb hint. Finish is very varietal, and drier than many. Would appeal more without the high solids dullness. Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2004  White Rock Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  12.4%;  $17   [ screwcap;  subsidiary of Craggy Range;  www.capricornwines.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen. A big bouquet, and one which changes as the wine breathes. Initially opened, it is somewhat disorganised and newly-bottled, with a dullness reminiscent of a high-solids ferment, plus a lees autolysis component which is heavier / more doughy than the delightful breadcrust character in the Dog Point. Breathed, some of these undertones change into an English gooseberry fruit character, and the wine becomes richer, with fresh acid, Sancerre in style. The characteristic Marlborough red capsicum and black passionfruit tastes are less apparent. Drier than the Dog Point or Loopline, cellar for several years.  GK 10/04

2004  Loopline Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  12%;  $18   [ composite cork ]
Pale lemongreen. Tending disorganised and newly-bottled initially. Breathes to a slightly grassy take on a gooseberry sauvignon, yet with some capsicums and black passionfruit too. Palate is riper and more red capsicum, long, rich, fresh, slightly sweeter than some but still in the 'dry' class. Another wine suggesting a serious commitment to quality, via a lower cropping rate. Cellar to 3 years.  GK 10/04

2004  Mission Estate Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $15   [ www.missionestate.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. Initially, this wine is slightly scented, with complex smells ranging from apricot, mandarin and ginger through to threshold armpit. Below is ripe fruit in a Hawkes Bay style, black passionfruit and mango more apparent than red capsicum, yet still clearly varietal. Not as rich as some. Cellar 1 – 3 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Montana Sauvignon Blanc   17  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $15   [ www.montanawines.co.nz ]
Brilliant lemongreen. Always interesting to have the industry sauvignon standard included in a blind tasting. Bouquet is complex, with clear red capsicum, hints of mandarins and black passionfruit, and more ripeness than is typical Marlborough. Palate is slightly different too, with red English gooseberry suggestions added to the bouquet aromas, all of medium length and weight. A pure stainless steel approach to Marlborough sauvignon. Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Kaituna Valley Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½  ()
Awatere Valley, Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $18
Lemongreen. Bouquet on the standard wine is not quite as pure as the Reserve, but they are both in the OTT red capsicum style, so ripe as to be losing florals. Palate is a little coarser than the Reserve too, whether from a gram or so less sweetness, or more phenolics, is hard to say. Both wines are boisterous and spirity, losing the freshness which makes more conventional Marlborough sauvignon so versatile with food. Less would be more. Would cellar, if desired.  GK 11/04

2004  Dusky Sound Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $14   [ screwcap;  www.duskysound.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. This is a wine living dangerously. Rating of it will depend on your threshold to entrained sulphur. The bouquet could seem cardboardy and reductive like the Morton, or it could appear to be sauvignon complexed by sourdough breadcrust and yeast-derived flavours from yeast autolysis. Fruit is of fine rich Marlborough quality, ranging through all the capsicums to honeysuckle and black passionfruit, with good mouthfeel outclassing the Morton and Rymer's wines. It is not as dry as some Marlborough wines, but still in the dry class. For those who don't smell their wine, this is great stuff. For those who pay attention to bouquet, we can only hope that this is yet another prematurely-released wine which will marry up and improve in bottle. It has the fruit to do so. Might cellar for some years, with that 'European' sulphur.  GK 08/04

2004  Morton Estate Sauvignon Blanc Stone Creek   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $23   [ screwcap;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. Bouquet at this stage is a bit weighed down by some sur lie suggestions and a hint of armpit, but they should marry away. Palate has good fruit in the red capsicum and black passionfruit spectrum, but with the sourdough note on bouquet running through it. Judging dry. Cellar 2 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Lake Hayes Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½  ()
Marlborough & Otago,  New Zealand:  13%;  $20   [ screwcap; s/s, 3.2 g/L RS;  www.amisfield.co.nz ]
Water-white. Still some bottling SO2 to resolve (at the time of tasting), on a bouquet which is austerely varietal. Palate shows good fruit weight and surprising ripeness of varietal flavours, red capsicums and black passionfruit, but also high total acid balanced by more residual than many. This should develop considerably in bottle, but at the moment is too austere to rate more highly.  GK 09/04

2004  Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,   New Zealand:  12.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  www.wairauriverwines.com ]
Pale lemon. This is a mainstream Marlborough sauvignon bouquet – mixed capsicums with only the slightest suggestions of black passionfruit or sweet florals. Palate has plenty of flavour in a slightly old-fashioned Marlborough style, but is tending acid. Not quite ripe enough to cellar beyond a year or two.  GK 11/04

2004  Framingham Sauvignon Blanc   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $17   [ screwcap;  www.framingham.co.nz ]
Palest lemon green. Very youthful initially, with some bottling S02 still to marry in. Below that is mild black passionfruit and faintest capsicum flavours, in a crisp slightly citric palate. Not as flavoursome as some years of Framingham have been. Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 10/04

2003  Seresin Sauvignon Blanc Marama   16 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  14%;  $36   [ SB 100%; 100% BF & LA in 50% new French oak, nil MLF;  www.seresin.co.nz ]
Good lemon, one of the deeper. A huge bouquet in a broadly similar style to Te Koko, but heavier on a lot of high-solids fermentation odours which introduce fusel-oil-like (amyl and related alcohols) dull smells. Intermingled are sauvignon fruit characters and oak, all very strong indeed. Palate is massive for sauvignon, almost baguettey from the lees autolysis component (which is very good), sweet on the oak, long, leaving a total flavour in mouth reminiscent of parsleyed scrambled eggs on toast. The wine is richer and much oakier than Te Koko, though due to the lack of MLF, in one sense the actual sauvignon flavour is purer. Without the high solids and excess oak components, I could like the wine a great deal. The new Dog Point Sauvignon provides an illustration of such an approach. Marama will cellar 5 – 10 years, in its style.  GK 09/04

2004  Carrick Sauvignon Blanc   16  ()
Otago,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $20   [ screwcap; 20% BF in 6 – 7 year oak;  www.carrick.co.nz ]
Virtually water-white. Initially opened, an austere and slightly reductive bouquet, not communicating. Palate shows a more austere palate profile than Marlborough, dominated by English gooseberries and capsicums yellow and green, rather than red. There is a grassy thread too, and total acid is very high. This is clearly a cool climate sauvignon, unlikely to cellar profitably beyond a couple of years.  GK 09/04

2004  Te Mania Sauvignon Blanc   16  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  www.temaniawines.co.nz ]
Lemongreen, very spritz. A mixed bouquet, with a touch of fermentation odours, and an underlying capsicum character which includes green as well as red. Palate likewise lacks the beauties of fully-ripe sauvignon, and is tending acid, with slightly more residual to cover that. Still commercially 'dry', but only just. Not a cellar wine.  GK 10/04

2004  [ Te Mata ]  Rymer's Change Sauvignon Blanc   16  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $13   [ screwcap;  www.temata.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. Another wine not yet fit for release, with suggestions of high-solids and sur lie dullness hopefully to marry. Palate is lighter then the top wines in the tasting, as would be expected in the price range, and flavours are in the greenish capsicum spectrum. Straightforward sound sauvignon, more Marlborough commercial than Hawkes Bay in style, slightly acid. Cellar 1– 3 years.  GK 08/04

2004  Sunset Valley Sauvignon Blanc   16  ()
Upper Moutere, Nelson,  New Zealand:  13%;  $19   [ organic producer;  www.sunsetvalley.co.nz ]
Lemonstraw. A more developed and riper sauvignon bouquet retaining some red capsicum and black passionfruit characters, but also showing peachy and almost banana hints, as if a flavour-enhancing 'aromatic' yeast had been used. Palate continues the theme, almost fruit salad saved by sauvignon acid. Mixed in with the flavour there is also a hint of canned peas, so perhaps fruit ripeness was uneven. This is flavoursome and prematurely developed for an '04, sweeter than some, a more commercial wine. Not a cellar prospect beyond 12 months.  GK 10/04

2004  Morton Estate Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay   15  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  13%;  $15   [ screwcap;  www.mortonestatewines.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen. An unconvincing bouquet, with some cardboard, some capsicum, and some pepino fruit notes. The congested suggestions extend to the flavour, which is straightforward sauvignon from a warmer climate than Marlborough, and more a pleasant QDW. Not worth cellaring.  GK 09/04

2004  Sanderson Sauvignon Blanc   15  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  11%;  $14   [ screwcap;  www.sandersonwines.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. Initially opened and subsequently, there is an organic odour which falls in the 'fruity' family of smells, but which is not totally appealing. Flavour is relatively short, plain, dry, and acid, reminding of stewed gooseberries. Not a cellar wine, beyond 12 months.  GK 10/04

2004  Torlesse Sauvignon Blanc   15  ()
Waipara,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  www.torlesse.co.nz ]
Palest lemongreen. Clean modest recognisable sauvignon, a little estery, new, and on the grassy side of properly ripe. Palate is a bit stalky, light, presumably from a cropping rate more 1980s than best '00s. QDW.  GK 09/04

2004  Canadoro Sauvignon Blanc   15  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  13.4%;  $19   [ screwcap ]
Palest lemongreen. Initially opened, the wine is somewhat reductive, with the variety obscured. Well aerated, it becomes austerely green capsicum varietal, but mineral and acid as well. Not worth cellaring.  GK 11/04

2004  Matahiwi Estate Sauvignon Blanc   15  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  12%;  $16.50   [ screwcap; 10% BF in older oak;  www.matahiwi.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen. Initially opened, tending veiled / reductive, not clearly varietal. Breathed, opens to an austere and slightly grassy sauvignon, the flavours lacking ripeness, and tending to the green and acid end of the capsicum spectrum. Fair concentration and good sweetness, within the 'dry' class, though. Not a cellar wine, beyond a year or so.  GK 10/04

2004  Riverby Estate Sauvignon Blanc   14 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap ]
Pale straw. Bouquet on this wine is too European, with sur lie reductiveness flattening the fruit aromas. Palate shows a fair weight of fruit, but detail is lost to the entrained sulphur, and the mouthfeel is harsh. This will improve somewhat in bottle, but it is unlikely to blossom. Plain QDW.  GK 09/04

2004  Shipwreck Bay Sauvignon Blanc   14 ½  ()
New Zealand:  12.5%;  $18   [ screwcap;  www.okahuestate.co.nz ]
Palest straw. A light, scarcely varietal, recently-fermented, clean bouquet. Palate is equally light, very acid, more akin to Australian bag-in-the-box sauvignon than New Zealand. Pleasant QDW, but sharp.  GK 09/04

2004  Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc   14 ½  ()
Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  13%;  $21   [ screwcap;  www.gladstone.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. A modest sauvignon in bouquet and flavour, the fruit on the thin and green side, flavours hard and short, acid high, and the whole edgy from light VA. Not worth cellaring.  GK 10/04

2004  Kakapo Sauvignon Blanc   14 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $18   [ screwcap ]
Pale lemongreen. A distinctive sauvignon combining the bad features of New Zealand and France, namely both some armpit smells, and reductive or sur lie characters. Palate is quite rich though, and clearly sauvignon, which redeems it somewhat. This will be marked higher by those insensitive to sulphur-related off-odours. It will cellar reasonably well, European-style, say 3 – 5 years.  GK 09/04

2004  Gravitas Sauvignon Blanc   14  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13%;  $19   [ screwcap;  www.new-zealand-wines.com ]
Pale lemongreen. A weak bouquet, with suggestions of staleness to it, on a pallid sauvignon base. Palate is more clearly ullaged / stale, but the base wine is mild as well. Plain QDW.  GK 12/04

2004  Amor-Bendall Sauvignon Blanc Gisborne   14  ()
Gisborne,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $25   [ screwcap;  www.amor-bendall.co.nz ]
Lemongreen. The smell on this wine is simply offensive, total stale armpit drowning out anything pleasant. Trying to taste it, underneath the smell, there is rich fruit, judging dry, with the promise of black passionfruit flavours if / when the unstable (sulphur-related, surely, akin to garlic mercaptan) odours on bouquet break down. The wine should be released then. From time to time, the New Zealand industry endorses wines of this malodorous style, thereby risking the overseas credibility of the entire operation. Check in 12 months.  GK 09/04

2003  Stonecroft Sauvignon Blanc   14  ()
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $21   [ 1 t/ac; all s/s, 3 g/L;  www.stonecroft.co.nz ]
Light straw. In the blind review of sauvignons, this wine was out to one end. Bouquet is an estery tropical-fruit version of the variety, reminiscent more of a hot-climate verdelho than New Zealand sauvignon. Palate has the acid of sauvignon, but the flavours go beyond tropical to suggestions of jujube, hinting at some oxidation. QDW.  GK 09/04

2004  Ra Nui Sauvignon Blanc   13 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.2%;  $19   [ screwcap ]
Brilliant palest lemongreen. Not a lot of bouquet as yet, in its youthful state, but suggestions of mixed capsicums less ripe than the Astrolabe. Palate however shows clear, pungent, sour rot, which I doubt the wine will recover from. Otherwise, it would have been good. Not worth cellaring.  GK 08/04

2004  Anchorage Sauvignon Blanc   13 ½  ()
Nelson,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $15   [ screwcap ]
Pale lemon. The good features of this wine (varietal, ripe etc) are outweighed by the inclusion of sour-rot and ignoble botrytis fruit, which make the whole wine unpleasant. Not fit to cellar.  GK 11/04

2003  Gravitas Sauvignon Blanc   13 ½  ()
Marlborough,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $19   [ screwcap;  www.new-zealand-wines.com ]
Lemon. A strong and unattractive bouquet redolent of high-solids fermentation, and followed by stagnant lees autolysis in the old European sur lie style. Palate is rich and equally strong, but the bouquet qualities permeate the palate, making it heavy and dull. A misjudged wine. Not worth cellaring.  GK 12/04

2004  Murdoch James Sauvignon Blanc River Run   13 ½  ()
Martinborough,  New Zealand:  12%;  $17   [ screwcap;  www.murdochjames.co.nz ]
Palest lemon. A wine to appeal to stale-sweat and armpit-in-sauvignon lovers, and for me further marred with sulphide problems. These sour qualities carry through onto the clearly varietal palate, but are unpleasant. Not worth cellaring.  GK 11/04

2004  Beach House Sauvignon Blanc   11  (-)
Hawkes Bay,  New Zealand:  12%;  $16   [ screwcap;  www.beachhouse.co.nz ]
Pale lemongreen. This is an unfortunate wine, which should not have been bottled. The whole bouquet and palate is permeated with pungent ignoble botrytis and sour rot, which won't go away.  GK 11/04