Despite an influx of increasingly lovely Pinot Noirs, Sauvignon Blanc is still New Zealand’s hallmark varietal. The Marlborough appellation, on the northern tip of South Island, produces the country’s most vivid versions.
Phil and Chris Rose were successful grape growers for years before starting their own label in 1991. Named for the nearby Wairau (Maori for flowing water) River, the winery hired consulting winemaker John Belsham, who learned the ins and outs of Sauvignon Blanc during his early days in the Médoc. The vintners use estate fruit exclusively, and only the finest of the crop goes into the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.
The 2001 Wairau River Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is a beautiful expression of the varietal, offering both density and sophistication. Its soft elegance and lush texture are perfectly balanced with nervy acidity. Kiwi Sauvignon has taken the world by storm, and this is the varietal at its best.
Paterno Wines International, 847.604.5732; $24