To say the world of Sauvignon Blanc may seem contradictory, how big a universe does one little grape variety that isn't even Chardonnay occupy? Well Sauvignon Blanc is one of the "noble" grapes, I'll have to define noble grape some day. For now I'll just say that noble grapes are good travelers, that is they retain their core character wherever they go, this is what is meant by "varietal character." On the other hand the noble grape variety will express itself according to the conditions it encounter in strange lands, this is what is meant by "terroir." Sauvignon blanc doesn't taste the same all around the world the way a Domino's pizza would. New Zealand, North America, South America, France (Loire), France (Boerdeaux) and Northern Italy all produce very different styles of this wine, yet they are all are expressions of Sauvignon Blanc.
The land of kiwis, rabbits, lamb and Sauvignon Blanc:
To say New Zealand has its own style of Sauv Blanc is quite an understatement. They really hit the international wine world in a big way in the 1990s with 80 percent of the production coming from Marlborough. Who knew that the cooler climate of the South Island was just right for slow ripening and that the sand over slate soil profile forces the vines to provide lower yields, the key to denser richer flavors? Another "terroir" factor is the fact that the soil is distributed in bands running east to west across the island while the rows of vines are laid out north to south. Thus, some vines are planted in heavier, richer soil which ripens more slowly and some in lighter stonier soil which causes grapes to ripen more quickly. Sauvignon Blanc's flavors show citrus, herbaceous, grassy and sometimes bell pepper qualities when harvested less ripe and then goes over to melon and tropical fruit flavors when picked more ripe. The difference is quite dramatic. Well the resulting juice produced from these grapes has an amazing kaleidscope of flavors. Rather than either having a riper or less ripe style it has both! You get citrus and grass as well as melon, passionfruit et, al., in a lively wine with really zippy acidity.
So if you haven't tried these fabulous "Kiwi Wines" give yourself a treat. My current favorite is the Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc from Canterbury, actually a bit south of Marlborough about 100 km north of Christchurch. But there are many many great wines available and though NZ is known for Sauv Blanc, don't overlook all the great Riesling and Chardonnay as will as killer Pinot Noir they produce as well!