It was the Kim Crawford brand that broke wide open the floodgates for New Zealand wine here in the U.S. The success of the brand created whole a new wine category unto itself, that of the easy-to-like, crisp, fruit-driven, under-$20 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Esoteric country, esoteric varietal—at least to most regular folks. With the epochal acceptance of this category by the broad-based consumer, a lot of competitors have since flooded the market. In a crowded field, it’s hard to sift through and find the ones truly worthy of attention.
One such worthy competitor is the INNOCENT BYSTANDER Sauvignon Blanc, from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, the most distinct breeding ground for the kind of Sauvignon Blancs that the new wine consumer craves. The fruit of the Innocent Bystander 2015 bottling is no-holds-barred. On top of the wine’s relentlessly citrusy persistence—like a toddler who won’t stop tugging at your shirt begging for a lollipop —there’s magnanimous aromas and flavors of guava, green papaya and passionfruit. The palate is greeted by a minerally fizz, and then the zestiness of the wine sweeps you away to the exotic tropics. At $14, this is Sauvignon Blanc priced for consumer perfection, at the same time possessing a distinctively dazzling quality that might as well be trademarked “Only in New Zealand.” –J.M.