Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 8

FINED&

filtered

Marlborough Country
The US drinks NZ

by Tyler Colman

At Vino Volo, there's a wine that stands out for its "consistency" and its "fruit-forward and racy" character
that make it "one of the most popular wines by the glass." So says Tristan Dyer-Kindy, national wine manager
at the chain of wine bars in 33 cities and airport terminals across the country. The wine? It's New Zealand
sauvignon blanc.

"You're leaving
money on the table
if you don't include
New Zealand
sauvignon blanc
on the list."
-David Keck, MS
8

Suddenly, the US has gone crazy for New Zealand
wines. We're now the country's biggest export
market, and buy enough to have vaulted the
kiwis into third place-directly behind Italy and
France-when it comes to imported wine sales by
value in the US. Overall, the US took in one-quarter
of New Zealand's wine by value last year.
That's a startling amount of wine given the size
of New Zealand. Its 90,000-plus acres of vines
represent just 27 percent of the vineyard area in
Australia, and less than five percent of France's.
However, what it lacks in surface area it makes up
for in price and image; while Australia and France
made inroads in the US through affordably priced
wines and bulk juice, New Zealand largely skipped
over the "critter wine" fad, focusing on more
expensive bottlings.
It also has a readily identifiable variety and
style. While US Customs doesn't break down data
on wine imports by grape variety, 90 percent of
wine imported from New Zealand is white. So that
means a lot of sauvignon blanc.
Ken Mudford, a New Zealander and, until
recently, the long-time director of inventory at
Sherry-Lehmann in New York City, remembers
the '80s and '90s, when there were few kiwi wines
coming to the US. Interest took off in 2003, he
recalls, with the America's Cup races held there,
and the subsequent Lord of the Rings movies. One
wine that led to broader awareness of the category,
he says, was Cloudy Bay, which was initially very
limited in supply, and helped establish the category
at a higher level. To this day, Mudford doesn't sell a
New Zealand sauvignon blanc below $10. "People
ask for Marlborough sauvignon blanc now, not
just sauvignon blanc," he says. Sherry-Lehmann
sells more than 50 New Zealand sauvignon blancs,
and four times more kiwi wine than Australian or
Spanish wine.

WINE & SPIRITS OCTOBER 2017

It's become an important player on restaurant
lists as well, especially in places where there's no
sommelier on the floor. "You're leaving money on
the table if you don't include it on the list," says
David Keck, a Master Sommelier at Goodnight
Hospitality group in Houston, explaining that
it's become so familiar to consumers, with such
a recognizable flavor profile, that it needs no
introduction from a sommelier to sell it.
That familiarity has created a bit of backlash in
the restaurant world, however. "It doesn't make
any sense to put it on a list if you want to have a
conversation with the guest about wine," Keck
finds, explaining that diners gravitate to it in the
same way they do Argentine malbec, Napa Valley
cabernet sauvignon and Sonoma pinot noir. "It's
an easy out." He tries to lead people interested in
New Zealand sauvignon blanc to either older, more
expensive bottlings, or a wine with a similar flavor
profile, such as an assyrtiko or dry riesling.
The question is now whether the trend for New
Zealand sauvignon will do anything for any of the
other wines grown there. The country is already
known for its pinot noir. But when Keck spent
three weeks tasting in New Zealand earlier this
year, it was the syrah and chardonnay that caught
his attention. He has since introduced a few nonsauvignon kiwi wines to his list, and found that
diners are game to try them.
As Keck points out, even most of the oldest
producers in New Zealand have only three decades
of fine winemaking under their belts, and many
chapters in the story of New Zealand wine remain
unwritten. Sauvignon blanc is only chapter one. n
Ed. note: This issue's New Zealand tasting report
(p. 71) highlights exceptional chardonnay, pinot gris,
riesling, pinot noir and syrah, in addition to a range
of sauvignon blanc.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - October 2017

Contents
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 1
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 2
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 3
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 4
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 6
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 7
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 8
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 9
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 10
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 11
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 12
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 13
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 14
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 15
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 16
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 17
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 18
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 19
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 20
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 21
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 22
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 23
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 24
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 25
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 26
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 38
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 41
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 42
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 43
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 49
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 101
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 111
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 112
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover3
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover4
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