Issue 30

Isle of White

Isle of White

White wine has a bit of a stigma attached to it. Go ahead and get a glass when you’re out at Bonefish Grille with your ding-dong friends and nobody bats an eyelash, but order one at a bar, or God forgive you, bring a bottle to a cookout or a party, and you will find yourself the butt of loads of jokes.

“Oh thanks for bringing this Fume Blanc, Luke. Will your boyfriend be coming later?”

“Oh wonderful, Sauvignon Blanc, I didn’t realize that a bunch of old ladies would be coming tonight.”

“We are your parents and we love you. Why do you insult us so?”

Anyway, I’m not here to rag on the Jeff Budweisers, the Todd Curzlites, or the Mike Hardlemonades of the world. No, in fact I intend to enlighten the three of you still reading this about the wonderful white wines of New Zealand. But first, a brief disclaimer: I am not a wine expert. I don’t know how to spell sommelier (that was a lucky guess). I don’t know what acescence means (and neither does Microsoft Word, apparently). I am simply a fella who enjoys a good glass of vino blanco from time to time so please don’t get too upset about my stupid opinions. Oh, and one last thing, I do realize that the “Lord of the Rings” movies were filmed in New Zealand and there will be no further mention of that, you damn nerds.

I first noticed my affinity for Kiwi wines two years ago. I was a casual white drinker, known to occasionally enjoy a Benson Mullet (glass of Chardonnay, shot of Tequila) on a steamy July afternoon. But lo and behold one particularly stifling summer day (the type that grabs you by the shirt collar and knees you in the groin when you step outside the door) my local watering hole was out of Chardonnay.

Soggy, parched, yet undeterred, I begrudgingly ordered a Sauvignon Blanc. I eagerly gripped the chalice with both hands, still trembling with anticipation. I brought it to my turgid lips. The liquid swirled through my mouth, its lush and piquant flavors scrawled a crude smile across my face. I had been quenched eternal (Wow, that last bit got a touch out of hand there didn’t it? Sometimes I get going like that and golly, before you know it, I’m channeling John Grisham. In fact, I just got a call from a big-shot movie producer, and he wants to buy the rights to that last paragraph. He said Matthew McConaughey is on board).

Anyway, so I guess I’ve established that Sauvignon Blanc is a superior varietal, but what makes the New Zealand breed so darn special? Noted wine critic, Mark Oldman, once said of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, “(it) is like a child who inherits the best of both parents — exotic aromas found in certain Sauvignon Blancs from the New World and the pungency and limy acidity of an Old World Sauvignon Blanc”. Fellow critic, George Taber, considers Marlborough, the northeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island “the best place in the world to grow Sauvignon Blanc grapes”. Still another critic likened drinking a Kiwi Sauvignon to “having sex for the first time”. Hard to say if that’s a good thing or not, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that it was drunk quickly, at bizarre intervals, whilst wearing socks, and an all-around unpleasant experience.

Yes, critics, this is all well and good, but how does it taste? The most common description I’ve come across is “alive with flavors of cut grass and fresh fruit”. Hmm, that’s not really doing it for me. Pretty pedestrian to be perfectly honest, wait a moment, what’s this? “Many Sauvignon Blancs from the Marlborough region are intensely acidic and reminiscent of cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush”. Wow! My God yes, that’s the one. Unbelievably, that was actually intended to be a compliment, so I’m just going to continue regarding wine criticism as patently ridiculous. Better yet, I’ve come up with a description of my own and here it goes: Aggressively crisp and refreshing. Light sweetness up front transitioning cleanly into a pleasantly tart, almost grapefruit-esque finish.

Convinced yet? Well what if I told you that they’re cheap! Yes friends, the wine industry in New Zealand is still very young, and in spite of all the critical praise its products receive, it is quite inexpensive. There are many marvelous bottles to be had for fewer than 20 dollars, and even some damn good ones under $10. Personally I am a fan of Dashwood, Kaikoura Estates, and Frog Haven Estates. But don’t rest on your laurels, because as these wines continue to grow in popularity, so will their price tag. And as legendary English Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, once said: “Nothing lasts forever, in the cold November rain (may or may not be true).”

Well gang, hopefully now you see that drinking white wine isn’t lame at all. In fact, if served properly it’s pretty cool! But in all seriousness, get out there and buy yourself a crisp bottle of blanco. Live a little, you deserve it. Unless you’re thinking about getting Moscato — in which case you can go straight to hell.

Lucas Korth

Lucas Korth

Lucas Korth has been writing for Food & Spirits Magazine for probably over a handful of issues. Longevity is his greatest strength. He enjoys cycling, baseball, his wife Becky and their cat, Mr. Jingles. If you'd like to tell him his articles stink in person, he can often be found at Jake's Cigars in Benson; where he is the bar manager. He is remarkably unfunny.

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White Wine

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