Almost immediately after Wine Spectator’s Oct. 15 Great Values issue hit the newsstands featuring the $10 Kono Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2009 on the cover, my local Trader Joe’s had a display pack of the wine, with an even more amazing price of $8. You bet I picked up a few bottles.
I enjoyed the wine on a few occasions, but one night in particular stands out. A friend had shared some of her garden’s bounty with me, and I was excited to have some homegrown, freshly picked Padrón peppers. If you’ve never had this Spanish pepper before, it’s small and bright green, and it kind of looks like a wrinkled jalapeño. It’s most traditionally served fried or grilled with olive oil and coarse salt.
As soon as I got home, I poured a glass of Kono and started prepping the peppers, tossing them in some olive oil and heating them in my cast iron pan until they were sufficiently blistered. When they were done, I topped them with my most expensive and crunchiest of sea salts. Digging into Padrón peppers is a little bit like a game of Russian roulette. Most of the peppers are sweet and mild, but others are ridiculously hot and spicy. It’s enticing to start eating them one after the other, but a hot one will stop you in your tracks until your mouth cools down.
The Kono Sauvignon Blanc is wonderfully refreshing, with bright, crisp flavors and a light body that just glides along. It’s a terrific food wine, and paired well with the peppers—in particular I liked how the sea salt seemed to accent the wine’s flavors too. I gave the Kono 89 points, non-blind. And when I hit one of those really hot peppers, it was nice to have something refreshing to drink.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Kono Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2009 (90, $10).
• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among New Zealand whites.