Extra notes add interest to palate

I have really been enjoying the 2023 sav blancs I’ve been tasting recently — although there is one cheeky 2022 late release interloper among today’s lineup. The sav blancs manage to capture that quintessential brightness and juiciness centred on typical gooseberry and cut grass/chopped herb characters, but are then layering in all sorts of extra flavours.

Among today’s wines I spotted pea-pod, capsicum, spice, citrus, nectarine, seashell, lemon verbena and gunflint notes which all increase the palate interest.


2023 Astrolabe Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Price RRP $30
Rating Excellent to outstanding
Fascinating nose, nettle, 
sweet pea-pod, smoke, 
cut grass and 
gooseberry, lifting out of 
the glass. Initially a touch 
of tautness, chalky 
phenolics accentuating 
the structure before a 
burst of flavour totally 
envelops the palate. 
Almost a tingly quality, 
dances on the palate, 
fabulous length, 
mandarin zest adding a 
delicious bittersweet 
note. A wine to 
contemplate, or simply 


2023 Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Price RRP $36
Rating Excellent
Wisps of flinty 
smokiness, lead, 
quickly evolving to 
classic SB pungency 
with gooseberry, 
capsicum and spice. 
Delightfully cool, 
inviting mouthfeel, a 
core of sweet fruit with 
ripe nectarine offering 
that combo of sweet 
yet zesty. Mouthfilling, 
brimming with flavour, 
with a long, long finish 
framed by lime and a 
hint of salinity. Classic 
pungency and 

2023 Babydoll Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Price RRP $19.50
Rating Very good to excellent
Nettle, cut grass and 
capsicum lead, a little 
gravelly minerality and 
gunflint follows. 
Sweetly fruited, 
gooseberry, chopped 
herbs, citrus, quite 
supple, then the juicy, 
lip-smacking close 
comes into play 
highlighting the 
freshness on the 
finish. Fans of SB will 
be very happy with 
this; it is generous, 
bright and zesty, 
delivering a very 
classic SB experience.

2022 Astrolabe Taihoa Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 

Price RRP $37
Rating Excellent
This takes a different 
path, wild yeast/warm 
baguette, smoke, green 
bean/pea pod, lemon 
curd, honeyed yet fresh. 
Complex and fascinating, 
the flavours echo the 
nose, it is all about 
balance and integration, 
elegance and refinement 
showing another side to 
SB. Brings in a grainy, 
chewy element to the 
texture, excellent length, 
on a richly composed 
frame. A great food 
choice too.

2023 Carrick Organic Bannockburn Sauvignon Blanc

Price RRP $32
Rating Very good to excellent
Completely different, a 
burst of fruit jube with a 
tangy counterpoint, 
smoke, citrus zest, an 
intriguing funky nuance. 
Green apple and lemony 
citrus in the mouth, 
tangy and supercharged, 
crying out for a sunny 
afternoon and a plate of 
cheese. Aeration sees 
the tanginess ease back 
as the texture and length 
are more apparent. 
Definitely jolts the 
senses awake.

2023 Astrolabe Kēkerengū Coast Sauvignon Blanc 

Price RRP $32
Rating Excellent to outstanding
Hints of smoke and 
yeast, less overt green 
notes, more into the 
citrus and nectarine 
flesh spectrum, a 
grassy undercurrent. 
Richly textural, almost 
creamy, understated 
elegance, a wine that is 
comfortable in its own 
skin with deceptive 
flavour intensity. 
Lovely complexity, 
wonderful carry, very 
alluring, you find 
yourself looking for 
another glass.

2023 Misha’s Vineyard The Starlet Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc 

Price RRP $32
Rating Excellent
A wisp of funkiness 
draws back the curtain 
to reveal notes of 
citrus, chopped herb 
and a wisp of seashell. 
A burst of flavour in 
the mouth, exuberant, 
vibrant, grabs you by 
the tonsils and doesn’t 
let go. A wee touch of 
chalky phenolics adds 
to the textural impact. 
Wonderful length and 
carry. With air the 
nose is slightly 
reticent but the palate 
absolutely delivers.

2023 Domain Road Vineyard Bannockburn Sauvignon Blanc

Price RRP $27
Rating Excellent
A smear of honey on 
warm brioche, lemon 
verbena. Cut grass and 
gooseberry also make 
an appearance. The 
palate continues the 
theme, good flavour 
intensity and depth with 
a core of acidity keeping 
this fresh and racy. With 
aeration there is real 
textural impact here, that 
fatness snapped into 
line by the long, racy, 
herb-accented close. A 
winning combo.