Decanted | Living Up to New Zealand's Reputation - Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2010
I suppose that one of the things that truly sparked my interest in wine was the opportunity to learn. Each bottle offers its own little history lesson, and with this bottle in particular, it also offered a life lesson: Be sure to check your bag for holes before carrying wine in it—especially if you haven’t tried said wine yet. It will only result in another trip to the store. So, two bottles later, I bring you Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2010.
New Zealand has been an ideal wine region for hundreds of years, but it’s still somewhat young in the business. It wasn’t until the threat of war forced European vintners to emigrate during the 1930s that the grape growing potential was discovered. Among these immigrants were Nikola Nobilo and his wife Zuva, who left Croatia to live in Marlborough, New Zealand. His family had over 300 years of experience in winemaking, and had intended to continue the tradition. Unfortunately, Nikola didn’t realize that the local culture and archaic laws (which at the time didn’t allow restaurants to serve wine with meals) would make the venture so difficult. Nikola had no option but to start a farm to support his family, yet he never gave up on his passion. He, along with other Croatian immigrant winemakers, continuously lobbied the government to change the restaurant laws. They eventually met with success, but it took several more years for New Zealand to gain global attention. By the 1970s, Nikola had become an accomplished vintner, and in 1994, he was awarded for his contribution to the country’s wine industry. Today, his wife, now a widow, still lives next door to their original property and New Zealand is critically acclaimed to be home to the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.
Sauvignon Blanc is an interesting variety of wine. Its flavor ranges vastly as a result of differing growing climates. The most discussed contrast is California versus New Zealand. California Sauvignon Blanc used to carry a poor reputation due to its grassy flavors. Robert Mondavi, a famous Napa winemaker, fortunately introduced barrel aging to Sauvignon Blanc, which tamed the wine and its green tendencies.
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand tends to be a more popular choice. The sandy soil and slate plates of the Marlborough region provides great drainage and poor fertility, which surprisingly is a good thing! If the soil provided great fertility, the vine would focus on propagating. Propagation is a reproduction method in which grapevines grow a branch-like section called a cane. Canes can be cut from the vine and used to grow new vines. But, by having poor fertility, the vines are forced to focus more on the fruit, thus concentrating its flavors.
The cool climate of New Zealand offers a long and steady growing season, allowing the grapes to fully ripen and develop a natural balance of sugar and acid. The result is a refreshing wine with sweet, tropical fruit flavors such as melon, pineapple, kiwi, etc. Sauvignon Blanc can also be largely influenced by decisions made in the winemaking process. For example, prolonged exposure between the must (freshly pressed grape juice) and the skins can add to the intensity of the wine.
After finally getting to sample this wine, I can confidently say that it lives up to the prestigious reputation of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. At first taste, I noticed sweeter tropical fruit flavors—specifically melon. After it opened up a bit, I also picked up on a little green pepper flavor, which I didn’t mind. The body is fairly light and has a crisp, steely nature to it. This most definitely, would be caused by the use of steel barrels during the aging process. Finally, I noted quite a bit of acidity in the finish of this wine, making it a great palate cleanser to enjoy before a meal or to pair with seafood.
I would normally suggest drinking this wine on summer day. But, as we're winding down to the last warm days of the year, give it a try before fall kicks into full gear. It is refreshing and very well rounded—meeting the needs of all types of wine drinkers. This wine is a great example of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and I am sure Zuva is proud of the legacy her husband began over 30 years ago.
Name: Nobilo Regional Collection
Vintage (year): 2010
Location: Marlborough, New Zealand
Type: Sauvignon Blanc
Description: Light Bodied White
Where to get it: Cap ‘n Cork
What I paid: $12.89 a bottle
Photo by Tony Frantz