One of the things I love about wine is how it changes character with different foods. One recent night, I made a meal inadvertently tailored for Sauvignon Blanc; fortunately I had a bottle handy of a New Zealand brand I wanted to try.
The Wild Rock Elevation ($18), from the Craggy Range team that includes veteran winemaker Steve Smith, isn't pure Sauvignon Blanc; it's got a touch of Viognier and Riesling to mellow the sometimes assertive character of these whites from New Zealand. With a little gooseberry and a lot of citrus on the nose, it was unmistakably Sauvignon, but those aromas were offset by floral and peach notes. The juicy orange and grapefruit flavors were given more character by a touch of grass and citrus rind. Light and refreshing, the wine finished with mouthwatering green apple and lime.
While I was cooking, we snacked on black-pepper crackers topped with Petit Billy goat cheese—a classic match for Sauvignon Blanc; the cheese turned the wine fruitier on the finish. We then moved on to shrimp sautéed with heirloom tomatoes, garlic and red and yellow peppers, served over fettucine; that dish brought out more of the herbal notes. I gave the wine 91 points, non-blind, for holding my interest throughout the meal.
The screw-capped Elevation, which is fermented in stainless steel and doesn't see any oak, is made in a winery accredited by the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand program, which sets standards for environmental practices. The 2008 grapes come from a combination of SWNZ-accredited vineyards and vineyards that were in the process of accreditation; all achieved it for the 2009 vintage.