Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


What I'm drinking - 5 of the best 2023 Sauvignon Blancs

Summer has arrived in New Zealand, along with a sea of Sauvignon Blancs for a report on this popular and commercially successful variety, which is being made in an increasingly diverse range of styles, if the latest tasting samples to cross my desk are anything to go by. It is only natural that Marlborough winemakers would want to branch out to flex both their creative talents as well as spreading the risk among consumers by making a wider range of styles. But there is another reason Sauvignon Blanc is growing in diversity of style, and that is because winemakers are highlighting sub regionality more than ever before. Growth in the volume of wine made in the cooler, windier and more elevated Awatere Valley and, in tiny volumes, at Kekerengu Coast - the most southern of Marlborough's grape growing areas.

The new releases of 2023 Sauvignon Blancs represent very good quality, showing that New Zealand vintages are far from being a one trick pony. It is good to see high quality Marlborough wines after such a challenging year in other regions, in which the best winemakers have produced top notch wines, albeit in a range of different stylistic expressions, but back to Marlborough.

The following top five wines are the tip of a bigger range, but they are exceptionally good and exceptionally affordable.

These wines tend to be flintier and fresher in taste, making them a great match for seafood on the barbecue, the stove top or simply sashimi-ed for the looming big day on 25 December.

Sauvignon Blanc accounts for over 85% of wine exports from New Zealand and is the wine that made the world's wine lovers sit up and take notice of this far flung wine producing nation. 

  • AMW is a trademark that guarantees authenticity of origin and means that 100% of the grapes in this wine were grown in Marlborough. Find out more at

2023 Astrolabe Kekerengu Coast Sauvignon Blanc RRP $32

One of the best wines from Marlborough. Dry, fresh and zesty in taste. Winemaker Simon Waghorn says all his wines tend to be on the dry end of things, but he describes this one as absolutely crystalline, bone dry with no hint of sweetness left. It has a lovely tangy lemony, salty finish that makes it taste like a great match with fresh slivers of white fish and shellfish. AMW

2022 Settlement Heritage Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc RRP $25

Inspiringly flavoursome Sauvignon from a fully certified organic vineyard in Marlborough's southern valleys where hot days and cool nights accentuate all the tropical bells and whistles, with the added benefit of superb balance in juicy mid palate succulence. An exceptional wine from an exceptional team from the vineyard to the winemaking.

2023 Dog Point Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc RRP $29.99

One of the best Sauvignon Blancs made in New Zealand each year with its distinctive complex aromas, medium body and great purity of citrus flavours in a wine with a long finish. A juicy succulent mid palate gives this wine weight, depth and great length of flavour. AMW

2023 Astrolabe Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc RRP $30

A wine of great concentration with flinty freshness driving the dry flavours along in this outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, made 100% with grapes grown in the Awatere Valley. This is an exceptional wine with great concentration and depth, a medium body and a very long finish. It highlights the benefits of sub regionality that is clear and present in Marlborough today. AMW

2022 Rockburn Fumé Blanc Central Otago RRP $36.99

If the words Fumé Blanc bring to mind a bygone era, try this beautiful complex, creamy, dry wine, which is Malcolm Rees-Francis' take on the theme and combines savoury flavours with fresh herb aromas in a full bodied Sauvignon Blanc, made from handpicked grapes grown in Central Otago, fermented in barrel to coax complexity, texture and weight from this grape. A top wine shining a different light on Sauvignon Blanc.