Kitchen Tips

The best Sauvignon Blancs from Food's Top Wine Awards 2019

The young and beautiful, the sharp and sassy – Sauvignon Blanc is the original superstar. Master of Wine Paul Tudor shares his top Sauvignon Blancs from Food magazine's Top Wine Awards.

Look out for the Food Top Wine Award stickers on these bottles at supermarkets and selected liquor retailers.
Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($17)
The wine displays complex aromas of passionfruit, white-fleshed peach, lemon juice, zest and gooseberry, which enhances the minerality. There is an immediate fleshy impact carrying through with a good mid-palate texture. The wine finishes with ripe acidity, bringing lemon zest and gooseberry flavours along with a hint of stonefruit.
Mount Riley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($15)
This is great buying – fresh, cut-grass aromatics, some juicy, tropical fruit, crisp and zingy in the mouth and a balanced finish. Classic Marlborough Savvy at an excellent price.
Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($15)
Is this the most consistent label in New Zealand right now? Year in, year out, this provides generous, bright fruit, is fresh and crisp, with an off-dry finish. A great all-rounder.
Saint Clair Vicar's Bright Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($15)
A really solid, entry-level Sauvignon, and thus very good value. Upfront herbal aromas, citrus fruit in the mouth, with a dash of sweetness on the finish.
Leefield Station Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($18)
From a cooler, more elevated vineyard in Marlborough comes this stunning wine. Lifted herbal characters, restrained fruit, yet plenty of crunchy acidity and intensity in the mouth. A relatively dry example, which would work really well with hot, spicy dishes, or salty cheese.
Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($20)
2018 turned out to be a very good year if you like Sav Blanc and this is a great example of that. Ripe tropical fruit notes, even a hint of passionfruit, punchy fruit and an off-dry finish.
Saint Clair Premium Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($20)
Saint Clair is synonymous with great Sauvignon Blanc and they make half a dozen each year, if conditions allow. This is perhaps their "flagship" wine and if you are a Sav fan, you must try it. Bright, intense aromas of passionfruit and capsicum, ripe stonefruit in the mouth and a zingy, fresh aftertaste.
SOHO White Label Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($20)
Soho makes lovely fruity, approachable wines, where the emphasis is on ripe fruit and drinkability. Their 2018 Sauvignon is another top wine; juicy and rich, with a lovely creamy mouthfeel.
Spy Valley Sustainably Crafted Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($20)
Based in the Waihopai sub district, Spy Valley has very quickly established itself as one of the benchmark producers of Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough. This latest vintage is a cracker: pungent, vibrant, well weighted, yet a firm acid backbone that would be a great match for seafood, white meats or spicy dishes.
B Brancott Estate Letter Series Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($22)
Grassy, herbal nose, quite delicate and fine. In the mouth zing, also restrained and tight, with some lovely chalky acidity and a racy, fine finish. This would be great with spicy foods or rich fatty dishes. Lovely waxy ripe fruit. Quite classy in its own way; refined and poised.
Nautilus Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($22)
One of the richer, riper, juicier wines this vintage, the 2018 Nautilus is one of their best ever. Lovely stonefruit and passionfruit characters, textured mouthfeel and fine acid backbone. This is not just a great food wine, but also lovely on its own.
Yealands Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($23)
Coming from the slightly cooler, more maritime influenced Awatere Valley, this wine has an amazing aromatic lift, with leafy, herbal notes, but also minerally undertones. An incredibly elegant, understated wine, with great purity. Enjoy with seafood.
Saint Clair Pioneer Block Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($25)
A serious, weighty, intense wine, with a restrained aroma profile of citrus fruit, honeysuckle, straw even. The palate is also taut and linear. A wine designed for the dinner table – my perfect match would be Bluff oysters, but this will counterbalance a wide range of rich dishes.
Elephant Hill Hawke's Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($25)
Hawke's Bay Sauvignon used to be more widely seen, so it was a joy to pick up this bottle. More subtle stonefruit characters are found here, with straw/hay overtones. The wine has a very firm acid structure and tight finish. Serve with chicken or pork for a great flavour experience.
Pegasus Bay Waipara Sauvignon Semillon 2016 ($32)
The recent trend towards 'alternative Sauvignon Blanc', those made using barrels, or with indigenous (so called 'wild') fermentation, has produced some interesting results, but with over two decades of production, this is one of the originals. A complex, creamy, multi-layered wine; there is an intriguing sweet and sour element to it. Better to think of this as an interesting medium-bodied dry white than as a straight Sauvignon Blanc.