Sauvignon blanc is what New Zealand is best known for, though pinot noir is has fast become a close second. Numerous brands in all price tiers have made their mark around the world, particularly in the U.S., and both grapes thrive there, in different regions, and there are a host of excellent examples from the value category all the way on up to the luxury tier. I recently sat down to discuss this over dinner in New York City with the brand ambassador of Mud House, Jack Glover, and tasted through some current releases. The three below made a particularly strong impression.
Mud House 2014 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $13.99)
The fruit for this wine was sourced from several vineyards within Marlborough. Each source was picked and vinified separately. It was then blended, fined and bottled. Gooseberry and citrus aromas light up the welcoming and ultra-fresh nose of this sauvignon blanc. Lots of grapefruit shows on the palate along with bits of sage and Jalapeno. Spice notes emerge on the finish alongside continued citrus fruits. Mud House has produced an excellent entry level sauvignon blanc that will whet the appetites of a wide swath of wine drinkers.
Mud House 2013 The Woolshed Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $20)
All of the fruit for this wine was sourced from two blocks within the namesake vineyard. It was fermented entirely in stainless steel. Granny Smith apple aromas dominate the nose. A boatload of gentle citrus flavors and tons of mineral characteristics inform the deeply layered and complex palate. This bone-dry wine has an impressive finish that shows all of the above characteristics continuing. This wine is really appealing all by itself, but it will marry with a wider than average array of foods. This is essentially a $30-$35 wine with a $20 price tag; steal some while you can.
Mud House 2013 Central Otago Pinot Noir (SRP $28)
This pinot noir is a single-vineyard wine produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Bendigo, a sub-appellation of Central Otago. It’s composed entirely of pinot noir. It was aged in a combination of new and used French Oak Barriques as well as stainless steel. The first thing that stands out about this wine is the darker than average hue for a pinot. The nose is a bit austere with hints of dark fruit and leather. The palate is studded with oodles of mouth-watering wild strawberry and cherry flavors. Bay leaf, black tea, and light wisps of earth are in evidence on the terrific finish. Wonderful acidity lends to the sumptuous nature of this wine. This pinot is simply hard to stop drinking once you start.
In all three cases, the wines over-deliver on quality, by a lot, for their respective price points. They will also appeal to a wide array of consumers. The Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is made in a friendly style that is sure to please more casual drinkers, but it has enough going on to work for more sophisticated wine lovers too. The Woolshed Sauvignon Blanc is an outright steal and a real boon for savvy sauvignon blanc lovers. It has a gravitas and depth that belies the nominal $20 price point. The situation with the pinot is similar; those who love this grape will likely be knocked out by the level of quality and pure pinot character in their glass for less than $30. Finding good pinot in that price range can be as elusive at trying to capture a Leprechaun; this pinot from Mud House proves that sometimes you can capture his pot of gold. Buy the Mud House Wines with the confidence that you’re getting excellent bang for your wine bucks.