Monday, June 6, 2011

2009 Mt. Beautiful New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

On the other side of the world lies a country, one that has given us many things to be happy about. For one, they graciously exported Flight of the Conchords. We should be eternally grateful for that. Another thing New Zealand exports to these shores: copious amounts of sauvignon blanc. For a while, it seemed that sauv. blanc was the only varietal grown down (or up) there. Before delving into the meat of this most recent review, I'll just take a moment to profess additional thanks that we're now seeing pinot noir, riesling, and viognier emerge from the titanic shadow of the sauvignon blanc engine.

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Journey with me then, to a land down under. No, not the Australian "down under" where they grill all sorts of shit and talk funny. Rather, to a smaller place with lots of sheep, picturesque hills, and cold winds blowing through the vineyards. Yes, New Zealand. Where the men are men and the sheep are afraid. I've never been to New Zealand before but I suspect if I can write well enough, someone will ask me to go on a press junket down there to explore the incredible wines the Kiwis are producing.

A month ago the always-awesome Stacey at Balzac sent some white wines down for me to go through this summer and post up. I already did the Shannon Ridge sauvignon blanc from Lake County a few weeks ago. After my pinot-fueled jaunt through Portland and the Willamette Valley last week, this week has been devoted to reminding my palate that there's more to life than (awesome) pinot noir.

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Mt. Beautiful's vines were first planted in 2004 on vineyards situated above a river called the Waiau. This area is south of the very famous region of Marlborough, home of wineries like Kim Crawford. Somewhat confusingly, Mt. Beautiful is tucked into the Cheviot Hills of North Canterbury, again a region south of Marlborough.

I chilled this bottle a little, mainly because today was a warm day and I needed something cold to sip. After I tasted the Mt. Beautiful sauvignon blanc, it went back into the fridge to chill down more and be enjoyed with a delicious Santa Fe chicken sub sandwich from Leucadia Pizza. That sandwich is awesome by the way, so I recommend it if you ever hit up Leucadia Pizza.

Yes, I emptied the bottle. No, not alone.

The wine was great too! It poured a nice green-tinted straw color into my glass. I smelled a bunch of interesting things like fresh cut grass, tropical fruit, river rock, and citrus aromas right on the finish. I did detect a little alcohol burn and when I checked the bottle, found that this sauvignon blanc is coming in at 14.0% abv. That's too high for sauvignon blanc, in my opinion, but it didn't show too strongly here.

Upon my first taste, I knew I'd like the '09 Mt. Beautiful because it was so clean and crisp yet had some complexity. Sometimes when a wine is clean, it sacrifices complexity and texture, I believe a balance must be struck. With this sauvignon blanc, I tasted grapefruit and hints of guava mixed with a great streak of minerality. The finish lasted longer than I expected, further pleasing the palate. That high alcohol did lend some weight and heat to the mouthfeel too, which is unfortunate but in the end, the wine tasted very, very good.

If you're looking to try a style of New Zealand sauvignon blanc that's different than the Kim Crawford and Nobilo's of the Kiwi wine world, check out the 2009 Mt. Beautiful sauvignon blanc. At a suggested retail of $18 and a real-world retail closer to $14, it's delicious! I give it a B++ and a STRONG BUY recommendation. This wine is such a lovely summertime white, I think you'll love it on those hot days where you want a light meal and nice glass of white wine. Here in San Diego, The WineSellar & Brasserie has it in stock. Outside San Diego, contact Mr. Robert Watkins here, and ask where you can buy it.

This wine was a media sample sent for review purposes.

Beau Carufel

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