I remember the first time I tasted Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc — a sticky summer day on the patio at my favorite Tampa wine bar, Wine Exchange, circa 2000. A friend in the wine business bought us the bottle, saying that New Zealand Sauv Blancs would be the next big thing. He was right. This island nation has claimed this varietal as their own, in all its cat pee, grapefruit glory. And Cloudy Bay can be considered the triumphant first comer.
But, due to the fame, the price on their wine quickly shot up to levels way beyond their worth, especially as upstarts released equally tasty versions at $10 less per bottle.
So I hadn’t tried Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc in years since I wasn’t convinced of the price/value ratio of $25 for a bottle of New Zealand’s finest. As if the winery sensed my reluctance, they sent me a sample bottle and asked my opinion. Hey, they asked, so here goes…
Take the bottle out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before sipping or the bracing, cat pee aroma will overwhelm a delicate nose. Classic flavors of grapefruit, lemon lime and crisp acidity shine through like beacons on a cloudy night. Light-bodied, bone dry and refreshing, this wine has a lemony finish that blows kisses for about 30 seconds after the sip. Well made wine although I must admit the high quality doesn’t justify the $25 price tag.
Sweetness: 1 out of 10
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Price: $22 – $27
Occasion: Sample sent from the winery and paired with shrimp sauteed in a lemon sauce.
Availability: Online and at independent retailers
Food pairing: Light salads like Edamame Salad with Grapefruit, Fish entrees like Tilapia with Tomato and Caper Sauce, and cheeses like Le Chevrot