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New pastures for New Zealand Sauvignon

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has certainly sculpted a niche for itself, but are we truly satisfied with the ubiquitous Marlborough style? Our tasting team compares it with styles from potential contenders...

  • Scroll down for our top five recommendations & regions to watch

Although Marlborough is by far the largest Sauvignon Blanc producing region in New Zealand, we are now seeing more and more exciting examples coming from other regions, including those that up until recently specialised in red varieties such as Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago.

What Marlborough has achieved in such a relatively short time is admirable, helping to make New Zealand Sauvignon a household name almost single-handedly.

But, such rapid success has also brought weary palates in some quarters and the challenge for New Zealand as a whole more recently has been to show that it is not a one-trick pony when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc.

This has opened the gates for producers in other regions of New Zealand who have witnessed Marlborough’s rise.

Below, Decanter’s tasting team take you through the best regions for exciting New Zealand Sauvignon. And yes, Marlborough is still on the list…

Five exciting New Zealand Sauvignon:

Regions to watch


New Pastures for New Zealand Sauvignon - Rippon

Rippon Vineyards in Central Otago. Credit: Rippon


Producing approximately 90% of all Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, you can’t miss Marlborough. Now divided into sub-regions including Wairau Valley and Awatere Valley with an increased focus on terroir, the over-riding style is one of pungent gooseberry and citrus with some herby qualities. Colloquially described as ‘cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush’.

Central Otago

Best known for its high quality Pinot Noir, Central Otago is David to Marlborough’s Goliath, producing just 45 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc in 2014 according to nzwine.com. The Sauvignon here gravitates towards passion fruit, grapefruit and gunflint flavours.

Hawke’s Bay

Another red specialist, Hawke’s Bay made its name with the quality of its Merlot & Cabernet blends and Syrah varietals. It now produces over 1,000 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc in a tropical fruit style that works well with oak.


Another big Pinot Noir region, Nelson offers a cool, restrained style of Sauvignon that verges on tropical and stone fruit flavours with herb and mineral notes. In terms of Sauvignon production, it sits between Hawke’s bay and Central Otago.

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