Must-Try Wines of the Week: Nobilo 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

As a Black Friday special, you get a twofer—two wine reviews for the price of one. The Nobilo name should be familiar to you, since most grocery stores and Costco carry the wines, along with several retail wine specialists.

The Nobilo brand has an interesting history, beginning in 1936 when Nikola and Zuva Nobilo decided to leave their native Croatia and move to New Zealand to escape the prelude of war. In 1943, they planted some of New Zealand’s first commercial vines at Huapai, west of Auckland.

At the time, New Zealand had no wine tradition, but the family kept at it, and by the 1970s, Nikola was a successful winemaker who helped lead the move from hybrid grapes to sauvignon blanc and pinot noir. He also worked on developing new winegrowing regions—most notably Marlborough. In 1994, Nikola was awarded an Order of the British Empire medal for his contribution to the New Zealand wine industry. Ultimately, it was sauvignon blanc that put New Zealand on the wine map, for what wine critic Oz Clarke called “arguably the best [sauvignon blanc] in the world.”

Nobilo Regional Collection 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
The Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc is a light yellow color, with a striking nose of grapefruit and lychee nut. It’s light and crisp on the palate, with medium body and a faint clover note to accent the light grapefruity flavors. Quaffable and unpretentious, the wine’s alcohol is a mere 12.5 percent. It’s a perfect accompaniment to most shellfish and lighter white fish categories, as well as salads and lighter chicken dishes. It also works quite well with many Asian foods. Available locally at Hi-Time Wine Cellars, Total Wine, Costco, for about $9

Hi-Time Wine CellarsTotal Wine, and Costco for about $9.

Nobilo Icon 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
The Icon series from Nobilo is clearly a step up from their Regional bottling. The wine is light yellow in color, with more interesting elements throughout. Aromas of clover, tarragon, and kiwi compliment the classic sauvignon blanc fruit. The Icon bottling is less grapefruit-driven than the Regional wine, and the palate shows a lovely integration of flavors and textures on a medium-full mouth-feel with nice minerality. Although light on its feet at 12 percent alcohol, this wine will “punch above its weight.” I wouldn’t hesitate to pair it with heavier fish or shellfish dishes, as well as spicier poultry or even pork roast. In fact, I’m craving some Cajun food (gumbo, blackened sea bass) to test this out.

Available locally at Total Wine for $17.

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