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Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Marlborough) -3 $25 ★★★★★

A FIVE-STAR recipient and top 10 placegetter a year ago, this beautifully crafted wine comes back to claim top honours. “It teases the palate with spice, true varietal signature and a little funk,” noted Cameron Douglas. It’s a vibrant, punchy style where the generous, fleshy fruit core is framed and driven by a flinty layer and bright acidity. The flavour profile includes saffron and Indian spice notes, along with citrus and wet stone. It is a powerful, engaging expression that would be a wonderful accompaniment for fish laksa.


“I’m happy with that, because I reckon it’s the best sauvignon blanc we’ve ever made,” said Lawson’s Dry Hills senior winemaker Marcus Wright when he heard his wine had taken top honours. “It’s a sign of a special sauvignon blanc that it has developed so well over the last year,” he added. Wright was thrilled with the fruit he received from several vineyards in 2016, and our top wine is a regional blend – Waihopai Valley-sourced grapes predominate, but there are key contributions from the Awatere Valley and a site on Chaytors Rd at the eastern end of the Wairau Valley. Once the fruit was in the winery, Wright began to delve into his winemaking bag of tricks. “Fifteen per cent of the fruit was a wild ferment in barrel, another 15 per cent was a tank wild ferment. The fruit was so ripe and lovely, I didn’t want to mess around too much. I wanted the wine to be unmistakably Marlborough, so just tried to add a little complexity and texture.” When asked about a food match, he immediately invoked the bounty of the Marlborough Sounds. “Anything you can dive for or catch from that water – scallops, butterfish – would be great. Cook it on the barbecue with olive oil, lemon juice, fresh green herbs… then open a bottle of the 2016 Reserve.”

2 / Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ★★★★★ -2 $18

Presenting a very different style to that of our top wine, this is an ethereal expression. It leads with delightful spring-flower-fresh scents. In the mouth, ripe guava and lemon sorbet notes take over, moving briskly towards a long finish. Fine, precise acidity and an edge of minerality add lift. Just the ticket with steamed Marlborough mussels.

3 / Domain Road Central Otago Bannockburn Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ★★★★★ -2 $23

This is a fascinating expression. It has depth, calmness and flows with a creamy ease. The fruit is holding well, with fresh herbal dabs (sage, sweet hay) offsetting a settled harmonious core. Soft acidity and a touch of oak give it roundness. A delicious wine that would be an excellent summer aperitif.

4 / Main Divide Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Marlborough) ★★★★★ -2 $21

There’s a lot to enjoy here. Attractive flavours akin to ripe nectarine, fresh herb, red apple and citrus flood the palate, along with a touch of flinty complexity. Fine acidity and a little textural weight give the wine completeness, and the finish is long and juicy. Enjoy it with pāua, seared with a little chilli, parsley and lime.

5 / Waipara Hills Equinox Waipara Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ★★★★★ -2 $34.90

Another reminder that well-made sauvignon blanc will reward a few years in the cellar. This barrel-fermented wine has come together beautifully. It offers layers of flavour – stonefruit, exotic tropical fruit notes, toast and honey – and is driven by energetic acidity. “A memorable wine,” noted Cameron Douglas.

6 / Wild Rock Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ★★★★★ -2 $17

This 2017 offers excellent value. Yellow fruit notes – grapefruit and melon – are writ large, and wrapped in a fleshy, welcoming texture. Lively acidity keeps things fresh and feisty. “Wellpresented with length, complexity and generosity,” noted John Belsham.

7 / Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Marlborough) ★★★★★ -2 $20

Paul Bourgeois and his team at Spy Valley have produced a racy, up-tempo style. It leans toward the lively, green end of the flavour spectrum, with jalapeño and chive notes prominent. There is plenty of flinty texture and drive to this wine. It’s a style that would work fabulously alongside a crayfish bisque.

8 / Craggy Range Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ★★★★ -2 $20.95

This is a charming, well-toned expression. Fresh, squeezed lime scents open the account and in the mouth it is pristine and clear, with layers of fresh herb, citrus and white peach. The acids are juicy, ripe and in balance. “Classic Marlborough” is a worthy descriptor. It will work well with anything fresh out of the ocean.

9 / Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ★★★★ -2 $15

Now here’s a smart buy. It reveals its charms slowly. There is no aromatic thunderclap and in the mouth citrus, white fruit, then fresh herb notes unfold gradually. There is a softness to the mouthfeel and a touch of sweetness that is appropriate. An eminently drinkable style.

10 / Spy Valley ENVOY Johnson Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Marlborough) ★★★★ -2 $32

This falls into the “alternative style” camp, where winemaking techniques usually associated with chardonnay are brought to bear on sauvignon. It has been fermented and aged in oak, which lends it a honeyed creaminess. Lemon, toast and a layer of flintiness all contribute to a complex, balanced, lovely wine.

Babich Family Estates Headwaters Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 2 $30

Esk Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ★★★★ - 2 $20

Giesen Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 3 $20

Giesen The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 2 $25

Hãhã Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ★★★★- -2 $16

Hawkesbridge Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ★★★★ - 2 $26

Maui Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ★★★★ - 2 $19

Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 22 $15

Mud House Single Vineyard Woolshed Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 2 $23

Peter Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 2 $18.95

Rapaura Springs Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ★★★★ - 2 $19

Seventeen Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 3 $22

Stella Maris Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ★★★★ - 2 $18

Sugar Loaf Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Marlborough) ★★★★ - 2 $19

te Pã Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ★★★★ - 2 $20

Thornbury Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ★★★★ - 2 $15

Tiki Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ★★★★ - 3 $23

Wither Hills Rarangi Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ★★★★ - 3 $26





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