New Zealand sauvignon blanc Archives - Please The Palate
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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
According to Wine Marlborough, 77 percent of New Zealand’s wine production comes from the Marlborough region in the north-eastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island. With commercial plantings beginning in 1973 and the first vintage of Sauvignon Blanc in 1979, Marlborough is a rather young wine region.
However, there are 534 growers, 141 wine companies and more than 59,000 acres of vines planted. The region is awash with wine production and the playing field is rather saturated. But in 2005, two wineries — Crowded House and Catalina Sounds — decided to join on the crowded landscape.
Crowded House was started in 2005 and named aptly for the crowded landscape in Marlborough that they were joining. The wines are made from grapes that showcase the region’s best quality, resulting in wines with vibrant and fresh aromatics, powerful fruit concentration and refreshing acidity.
Catalina Sounds is named after the Catalina flying boats, New Zealand’s famous and largest warbird, made famous in World War II, as well as the nearby majestic Marlborough Sounds. Started 12 years ago, at the same time as Crowded House, the wines of Catalina Sounds are the premium wines with the majority of grapes coming from the Sound of White vineyard in the Waihopai Valley.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. If I were to say “New Zealand wine,” it is likely that the first thing you would think of is sauvignon blanc from Marlborough.

After all, sauvignon blanc is New Zealand’s most widely planted varietal. It makes up 72 percent of the wine production of New Zealand, according to the 2014 New Zealand Winegrowers’ Annual Report. There are more than 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) planted to sauvignon blanc with more than 17,000 of those hectares in Marlborough.

If I were to then ask you how to describe New Zealand sauvignon blanc, I am sure some of the following descriptors come to mind – grassy, gooseberry, bell pepper, grapefruit, lime or even cat’s pee. New Zealand sauvignon blanc is recognizable in a glass by its pungent aromas and bold acidity on the palate.

But not all sauvignon blanc from New Zealand is one-dimensional and predictable. Giesen Wines is on a mission to change the dialogue of New Zealand sauvignon blanc and elevate the status.


Giesen Wines is a family brand owned by three German brothers, Theo, Alex and Marcel. They were first drawn to the cool climate of the South Island in New Zealand more than thirty years ago. They planted their first vineyard in 1981 and produced their first wine in 1984.