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Here's to Sauvignon Blanc
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
May 5, 2015
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Nobilo, Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc “Icon” 2014 (Constellation Imports, $22):  If there is an official California Wine Month (September) and a Finger Lakes Wines Month (May), I suppose we can’t be surprised to hear that an International Sauvignon Blanc Day exists.  The date was April 24, and a Twitter event, #SauvBl, marked the occasion.  Somehow, I missed it.  But a week later, the occasion gave me the retroactive opportunity to sample two New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs from Nobilo, which had been sent to help celebrate the day.

Ten years ago, I knew the wines of Nobilo fairly well, but I haven’t kept up with them -- and therefore I enjoyed this opportunity, contrived or not, to sample the winery’s current Sauvignon Blanc releases.  Nobilo is one of the largest producers in New Zealand, and one of the oldest.  The winery was a pioneer of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in New Zealand.  Today, Nobilo produces Pinot Noir and Merlot, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.  But as for so many New Zealand wineries, the real action lies with Sauvignon Blanc.  (#SauvBl fun fact: 72 percent of all wine produced in New Zealand in 2014 was Sauvignon Blanc.)

Nobilo produces two Sauvignon Blanc wines, both carrying the Marlborough appellation -- its “Regional Collection” wine ($13) and its “Icon” Sauvignon Blanc ($22).  According to what a Nobilo winemaker told me a few years ago, the Icon range (which includes a Pinot Noir and a classic method bubbly) is sourced from the best estate parcels, and from the best grapes of those parcels, to make a superior wine.

In the 2014 vintage, both of the Nobilo Sauvignon Blancs are good, but the Icon is clearly the finer.  The Regional Collection wine is lively in the mouth and very flavorful, with melon, pineapple and passionfruit notes along with green grass and green apple.  It’s fairly light, in fact just 12.5 percent alcohol, and it tastes dry, with its high acidity a salient operative component.  This wine has the weight of a better Pinot Grigio and with more vitality, and more flavor.  It’s an easy wine that you can enjoy without thinking much about it.

The 2014 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc has more weight, more concentration and more character.  It’s medium-bodied and dry, with ripe fruit flavors suggesting citrus and tropical fruits.  But because of the wine’s strong, savory mineral notes, the fruitiness is not necessarily the main flavor attraction, and the wine is therefore complex and interesting.  Like the less expensive wine, high acidity is the strongest voice in the wine’s structure, and the alcohol is fairly low, at 12 percent.  It will probably shine with simple foods such as grilled seafood and all those summer dishes that we (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) are about to begin enjoying.

89 Points