And the winner from New Zealand is ...
Last week, I championed chardonnay, but freely admitted that sauvignon blanc is the top drop here. Most hail from New Zealand and even though this country only accounts for about 1 per cent of the world’s total wine production, I estimate that almost one bottle out of every ten sold here originates there.
I like to think that we were one of the early pioneers as we were importing from a few of their top wineries 15 years ago and watched how their overall exports to the world have doubled in the past decade.
Someone has just handed me a list of the six top-selling New Zealand wine brands last year in cases in the world’s biggest wine market, the United States. We represent four of them. We used to, and still could, import one other that is fifth overall. These statistics are important for me as I have always believed that brand popularity is mostly based on the consistent quality and value of the wine and this is far more helpful in building sales than fancy labels and packaging.
In other words, folks are too astute to be fooled into buying an inferior product.
Matua, in fourth place, was the fastest growing with an increase of 23.6 per cent in 2018.
They started it all in 1974 when they were the very first to plant sauvignon blanc.
If you look at the label of their Marlborough 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, I will confess to a bit of a gimmick, but a very helpful one.
I will let them explain: “We do want your Matua to be as fresh and flavourful as possible. To this end, our smartest boffins got together and created ‘chill check’, a nifty piece of what’s called ‘thermographic label’ technology which ensures your Matua is perfectly chilled and ready to drink.”
How does chill check work? Just place your wine in the fridge, ice box, cooler, esky or chilly bin — any cooling device, really. Once the wine is chilled to perfection, a small snowflake will appear in the label’s bottom right hand corner.
What’s the perfect drinking temperature, I hear you ask? To ensure the best possible flavours and aromas, the sweet spot is 42F to 46F. By the way, if you are wondering what an “esky”, is you need to ask an Australian or New Zealander.
Here is what Wine Spectator magazine has to say about Matua: “Lemongrass, key lime and green apple flavours are bright and polished on a light frame, with refreshing acidity that pops on the finish, where verbena and fresh ginger notes linger. Drink now.” For the record, ‘Matua’ is a Maori word meaning “head of the family”. $20.90.
Nobilo also got into the game relatively early when the winery was founded in 1943 and they hold down the third most popular spot on my USA list.
Fruit for Nobilo 2017 was primarily selected from vineyards in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley, which provided complementary layers of tropical fruit flavours. A smaller portion from vineyards in the Awatere Valley provided balance with citrus-driven, fresh, crisp and vibrant flavours. The grapes were harvested at night, when temperatures are cool, to preserve their vibrant fruit. $21.25.
Oyster Bay commands the second spot overall and a growth rate of 12.8 per cent makes it the second fastest in rate of increase.
They were one of the founders, over twenty years ago, of the movement to sustainably farm their lands and now it is claimed that 98 per cent of all grapes in this country are certified as being produced using nature-friendly sustainable practices.
This is certainly a world record and so appropriate in these times. Our price of $22.85 will secure you a bottle of 2018 Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and, upon tasting it, I believe that you will understand why its youthful, elegant, lingering and zesty character has made it the most asked-for New Zealand wine here.
Whitehaven is in the sixth spot and is the third-fastest growing at 10 per cent last year. Their 2017 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc starts with citrusy tropical aromas and moves on to grapefruit, peach, green apple and honey. At $31.95, I confess that it is not one of our fastest movers, but it is a very classy treat.
During the America’s Cup, I noticed that one large and beautiful craft ordered all that we had in stock. I was invited to spend the day on it watching the races and the owner explained that he always stocked up with Whitehaven wine. I was impressed to see that he even had Whitehaven matchboxes on board.
Then I found out that he was a major player in an insurance company of the same name.
Some of the beauties that we have, such as Seresin, Auntsfield and Te Mata, are not in the running for volume as they are tiny producers by comparison. One of them recently told me that they ship more wine to us than he does to the United States!
• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm
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