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New Zealand tops France in Sauvignon showdown

Northside Staff Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., David Marrano, Dana Malley, Kelley O’Neill, Jason Wentworth

Though Sauvignon Blanc is planted worldwide, two areas are most commonly associated with this grape variety.

The Marlborough region in the northern part of New Zealand’s South Island produces pungent wines with aromas and flavors smacking of herbs, grapefruit, and tart berries. Sancerre, located in France’s Loire Valley, 120 miles south of Paris, gives us wines that are more restrained, less fruity, and perhaps more elegant. All aside, who’s making the best affordable renditions?

The Northside staff recently blind-tasted 35 Sauvignon Blancs under $20: 23 from Marlborough and 12 from Sancerre.

The results were very interesting indeed. Nearly all the top wines were from New Zealand! Less restrained than their French counterparts, the best examples nevertheless possessed great style, as well as the palate cleansing tanginess of good Sauvignon.

The top wine of the tasting was the $14 2005 Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough [sku 1068].*

It is very characterful, with a powerful aroma redolent of grapefruit and gooseberries, lots of citrusy flavor, and a long, tangy finish. Saint Clair’s first wines were produced in 1994, but they’ve rapidly established an international reputation for their wines.

Try this winning Sauvignon Blanc with seafood, grilled vegetables, or spicy Thai food.

"Top Wine Picks" as seen in The Ithaca Journal 06/19/2006

Northside Wine & Spirits is located in the Ithaca Shopping Plaza on Elmira Road.

Phone 607-273-7500

*To purchase this wine, simply type its "Sku" into the "Find" field at the top of the page, and then click "Go."

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