TN: Cloudy Bay 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ $25

Next Thursday is the third in November,
which means the celebration of the new vintage and the sprouting of
signs proclaiming “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivĂ©â€ at a retail
outlet near you. But we don’t have to wait until then to taste the new
vintage, thanks to our friends down under. Sure, it’s cheating a bit
since they have a six-month head start, but this year’s Sauvignon
Blancs from New Zealand are already reaching our shelves.
And since there are so many Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand now,
it’s easy to forget the one that came first and introduced us to the
brash, grassy-herbal style and that bold flavor that seems uniquely New
Zealand. (Some call it gooseberry, others say it’s “cat’s pee,”
neither of which I’ve ever tasted, so I can’t vouch for it.)
Cloudy Bay ignited the trend for New Zealand Sauvignon
Blanc in this country, and then became scarce and expensive. Quite
frankly, at $25 it is more expensive than competitors that are its
equal. But Cloudy Bay is still delicious and focused on coaxing the true
expression from the grape and its terroir. Many of its imitators seized
on the American enthusiasm for New Zealand wines and pushed the
grassiness and the mystery flavor over the top. Such wines fight with
each other, like T.O. and the Philadelphia Eagles. The 2005 Cloudy Bay
is an excellent reminder of why we fell in love with New Zealand in the
first place. All those qualities are there but held in perfect balance,
an ensemble working together.

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