The Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite New Zealand sauvignon blanc is Spy Valley; the catch is that it’s very difficult to find in Dallas. So when I had a chance to meet Jules Taylor, whose New Zealand winery gets high marks for quality and professionalism (“Plus, Jeff, she’s a great person"), I was excited. There’s nothing wrong with having two favorites.
I was not disappointed. Taylor is clever and passionate about her work. How do I know this? When someone can sound as excited as she did about her wines when talking to a wine writer after a long and hot day of visiting retailers and sitting in meetings, she must be passionate. (She is also a tequila aficionado, and was very excited to be in Dallas if only for that. Not many interesting tequilas for sale in New Zealand, apparently.)
The sauvignon blanc ($18, sample) is New Zealand sauvignon blanc the way it should be. There is more grassiness than citrus in the front (and lime instead of grapefruit); a soft, almost seductive tropical middle (passion fruit?); and a long, very subtle mineral finish. This is a complex wine, especially for the price, and not only well above the entry level wines on the market, but on par with many more expensive ones. Highly recommended.
Taylor also makes a late harvest sauvignon blanc dessert wine ($20 for a 375 ml bottle, sample), which I really shouldn’t mention. It’s not that it isn’’t very nicely done (lots of apricot, honeyed sweetness, and a bit of sauvignon blanc character). It’s that she makes very little of it, and even less gets imported to the U.S. If you can find it, buy it.