Rebecca's Blog: The Sauvignon Blanc Smear Campaign

March 26th, 2013

Imagine that you are in Mendoza. You’re visiting local wine producers in the region but it becomes apparent that they don’t think much of Malbec – and they’re not afraid to be vocal about their disdain for the wine region’s most important export. It doesn’t seem like a wise marketing technique, does it?

But that’s what is happening in New Zealand. 

Sauvignon Blanc, which represents more than 80 percent of the country’s wine exports by volume, is being derided very publicly by the very people who make it.  It won’t be long before the derisory phrases such as “bitch diesel” or “cougar juice” filter down from the industry to the public domain. And then what? 

The very down-to-earth New Zealand wine industry could create an image of an elite serving up wines they wouldn’t drink themselves to an “ignorant” consumer. Warning: The consumer doesn’t like to be belittled. They’ll find someone else’s wine to drink, who values their custom and their tastes. It’s a PR disaster that needs to be stopped right now.

I admit I’m no cheerleader for the exuberant passion fruit and herbaceous Sauvignon Blancs that have put New Zealand on the map. Drinking it is comparable to meeting a really intense person at a party: fine for the first 10 minutes, but you wouldn’t want to spend the whole night with them. 

But my livelihood doesn’t depend on selling the variety.

While I appreciate producers are passionate about their delicious off dry Rieslings and fine Pinot Noirs and want to sell more of these styles, they don’t pay the bills. 

So for those who don’t like Sauvignon Blanc but sell it  – and the minority who don’t make it and are part of the New Zealand wine industry – keep your opinions to yourself.


Rebecca Gibb is editor at Wine Searcher and lives in Auckland, a long way from her original home of northeast England. She recently passed the theory and practical parts of the Master of Wine exams and is now working on her dissertation.

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bradw

April 4, 2013


I agree that winemakers putting down the very wine that pays their bills makes no sense at all. However, I disagree with your generalization of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. As a general fan of the varietal, I have come across many fresh and balanced NZ sauv blancs at very reasonable price points.

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