Wine Pick: Sileni Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2013

A New Zealand gem that’s not like the others.

June 12, 2015

By DJ Kearney / Photo: John Sinal

Hawke’s Bay, on New Zealand’s North Island, has a lustrous reputation for fine wines. Sileni Estates is located here, where some handsome chardonnays, pinot noirs, and merlots are bottled from its famous gravelly vineyards. But when winemaker Grant Edmonds makes sauvignon blanc, he sources the fruit from Marlborough, several hundred kilometers to the south. Marlborough is the spiritual home in New Zealand for sauvignon blanc (a grape closely associated with the Loire Valley in France), and the whites it produces are usually pungent, herbaceous, and savagely “green” (think grass, jalapeño pepper, and tomato leaf). In this bottle, however, exuberant fruit is the focus. The aromas are intense with pink grapefruit, chopped chives, and apple blossoms. Peach is the dominant flavour, with gooseberry, mango, and grape broadening the lush palate. Yes, there is a fresh herbal lift, but it’s held in check, probably by the small amount of semillon cleverly added. Dry, fresh, satisfying, and priced below some of Marlborough’s more familiar heavy-hitters, try it paired with a salad of grilled vegetables and creamy nuggets of local goat cheese.

(Nerd alert: If you’re wondering how Sileni avoids excessive green flavours in his sauvignon blanc, it’s all about farming. The vine canopy is more open than usual, allowing increased sun exposure for the grapes. And they’re picked a little later than usual to ensure flavour development has transited beyond herbal toward the stone-fruit and tropical spectrum.)

Sileni Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2013


New Zealand +160325


Get the Newsletter

Own your city with Vancouver’s thrice-weekly scoop on the latest restaurant news, must-shop hotspots and can’t miss events. Rest assured your email is safe with us.