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Issue Date: July 2005 Issue

New Zealand Zip

Marianne Frantz

The lazy days of summer are peppered with seasonal aromas: the pungent scent of fresh-mowed grass, the concentrated smell of just-rained-on cement or the citrus perfume of homemade lemonade.

Summertime is all about freshness.

The same holds true for July-heat Òpatio winesÓ -- refreshing, crisp, aromatic wines with clean citrus flavors.

Few wines fit the profile better than Sauvignon Blanc, with particularly zesty examples from New Zealand. Regional differences in climate and soil give New Zealand the opportunity to make a variety of wine styles from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. The North Island's warmer, wetter climates produce wines that are riper with tropical fruit flavors, while the South Island's cooler, drier regions produce crisp, grassier wines.

So where should one begin exploring? Try the Marlborough region, where more than 85 percent of all New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is planted.

Located in the northeast of the South Island, its cool nights and dry conditions create a distinctive, pungent style of Sauvignon Blanc. In general, the wines will be pale, straw yellow in color with just a hint of green. When the wines hit the glass, they release pronounced aromas of citrus, grapefruit and cut grass with an appealing mineral characteristic. Zesty acidity and lots of lip-smacking fruit immediately grab the palate and is best paired with a bit of food Ñ a simple cracker with goat cheese or a fresh green salad with tomatoes would be great.

The wine's crisp acidity and grassy finish make it an excellent choice for showing off the sunny flavors of summer. With so much freshness packed into one bottle, it is little wonder why Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand has won the hearts of wine drinkers around the globe.

Marianne Frantz, CWE, founder of the Cleveland Wine School, is joined by Sommelier Manuel Nieves from Classics in selecting wines for this month's Cellar Notes.

2004 Giesen, Marlborough ($13): Aromas and mouth-watering acidity jump out of the glass. Juicy with tropical fruit, limes, grapefruit and a long, grassy finish.

2004 Stoneleigh, Marlborough ($16): Crisp acidity and lots of ripe tropical fruits, lemon, apple and soft grassy aromas. A benchmark for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

2004 Brancott Vineyards, Marlborough ($14): Zesty acidity, intense fresh fruit. Lychee and stone fruit aromas; slightly oily in texture with crisp finish.

Goldwater ($20): Full of flavor with apple, limes, grassy-herbal character; crisp refreshing acidity and tropical fruit on the finish.

2003 Gravitas, Marlborough ($23): Rich, round mouth feel with fresh acidity; concentrated aromas of citrus, passion fruit, cut grass and a hint of mineral on the finish.

Thornbury ($16): This wine is Manny's go-to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp acidity, perfumed floral aromas and tropical fruit with a long finish.

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