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Get ‘Savvy’ with Sauvignon Blanc

The introduction of Marlborough’s astonishing Sauvignon Blanc in the 1980s was the definitive benchmark style for the varietal that saw New Zealand wine explode onto the international scene. World-beating performances in international competitions, rapturous critical reviews and exuberant, pungent flavours made it easy for wine lovers across the world to fall in love! Here we get up close & personal with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Oz Clarke eloquently summed up the impact of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. “No previous wine had shocked, thrilled, entranced the world before with such brash, unexpected flavours of gooseberries, passionfruit and lime, or crunchy green asparagus spears, an entirely new, brilliantly successful wine style that the rest of the world has been attempting to copy ever since”.

The Regions

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is broadly divided into two main regional styles:

  • Northern (Hawkes Bay and further north)- Northern Sauvignon Blanc styles tend to be riper and richer with melon, nectarine and other stone fruit flavours. 
  • Southern (the South Island and Wellington regions) – Southern Sauvignon Blanc styles are typically lighter and crisper with passionfruit and other pungent fruit flavours as well as red pepper (capsicum), gooseberry and herbal characters.

Here is an excellent map from Wine Folly which showcases the  7 Regions Define New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

The climate is the major factor in the north/south style distinction. Longer cooler growing conditions in the southern regions promotes stronger and more vibrant fruit flavours together with higher acidity levels. The smaller South Island regions of Nelson and Canterbury also place an important focus on the grape.

The country’s second and third-largest areas of plantings can be found in the larger North Island regions of Hawkes Bay and Gisborne respectively.

While Marlborough retains its status as one of the world’s foremost wine producing regions, the quality of wines from elsewhere in the country is making noise. 

So what can you expect from New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc?

The Marlborough benchmark style is known as a “Pungently aromatic and explosively flavoured wine, its zesty character redolent of green capsicum and gooseberry with tropical fruit overtones.”

Young, fresh New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc often has a clear, colourless appearance, take a deep sniff and you will savour the famously pure, intense aromas of this classic New Zealand wine.

Increasingly sub-regional styles are coming out of Marlborough most notably:

  • Rapaura District displays passion fruit and grapefruit, with a flinty character. Sweet ripe tropical fruit with an excellent length which produces wines which show ‘typical’ ripe guava and passionfruit spectrum, but also a mineral, subtle bodied character.
  • The Southern Valley shows green capsicum, grapefruit and cut grass with a lengthy rich palate.
  • The Awatere Valley produces wines which display intense sweet herb characters and a tomato stalk note with nettles and a palate with fruit sweetness.

“Fresh is best”- Sauvignon Blanc with Food

It’s the golden rule with Sauvignon Blanc. The vibrant flavours of Sauvignon Blanc enhance the freshness of seafood and white fish especially when served with citrus or garlic based sauces. Crunchy summer salads and capsicums both find a flattering echo of flavour in sauvignon blanc, while relatively high acid foods, such as tomatoes, and vinegar-based dressings also make an appealing match.

New Zealand Winegrower’s Association has created this handy infographic for matching New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with food. “Sauvignon Blanc’s ‘zing’ is a delightful complement to the fresh flavours of seafood, shellfish and white fish. enhance the effect with citrus or garlic based sauces. Crunchy summer salads and capsicums resonate with the flavours of Sauvignon Blanc; both the wine and the dish are flattered by the match. Tangy foods, such as tomatoes and vinegar based dressings, are other sympathetic matches.”

NZ Sauv with Food

There is no doubt that the perfect match for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is Bluff oysters fresh, plump and juicy. If oysters are not your style, then don’t despair as there are lots of other food matching suggestions:

  • Seafood: Pan-fried fish, Salmon, Scallops
  • Meat: Chicken, Veal, Turkey
  • International cuisine: Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese
  • Vegetables: Avocado, Salads, Asparagus

Quick and Easy Recipe

My pick for best enjoyed with is a fresh home-made classic guacamole as a dip with corn chips or dry crackers. Alternatively, use the guacamole as a topping for char-grilled fish or chicken.


  • Three ripe avocados – peeled, stones removed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • One teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • small chilli (no seeds) chopped finely
  • Small handful chopped fresh coriander
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes quartered
  • Salt and pepper


  • In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lemon juice and salt.
  • Mix in onion, coriander, tomatoes and chilli
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavour, or serve immediately.

The Sisters Sauvignon Blanc

Looking to try a Sauvignon Blanc delivers everything you’d hope for from this classic Marlborough varietal? Try our The Sisters Sauvignon Blanc. It is fresh and forward with a combination of tropical passionfruit aromas and flavours combined with zesty, vibrant tones. Here are some of the wine packs available through our online store.