I just tasted a twelve dollar Lodi, California Pinot Noir for which I was warned in advance that half the people who taste it, hate it. I thought that actually sounded like my kind of wine and after tasting it, I was right. It was earthy with ample barnyard aromas and flavors and it was, frankly, over-the-top in a style quite counter to what commercial pinot should be.
What does your local wine merchant do with such a beast? If textbook pinot is light, clean, nuanced, and food friendly and this example has heavier earthy attributes with darker, duller flavors, why, of course, anyone in their right mind would escort that sample bottle right out the door. I bought a case. As a matter of fact, I tasted a twenty dollar version of this style of pinot from Van Ruiten of Lodi six months ago and I have sold about four cases of it since then, always telling the purchaser that this was not mainstream wine but it was well worth checking out anyway. Are these eccentric versions of Pinot Noir good examples of pinot? No, they are not. Are they good red wines? Yes, in their own right.
Who says that all pinot must be cookie cutter copies of each other? When in Burgundy, France, go ahead and make best of its kind Pinot Noir; when in Lodi, California, utilize all that the good Lord affords in the way of terroir and winemaking skill and go for it. Make the beast in all of its glory.
So what does this rant have to do with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? It has to do with the style of the wine. Obviously the Marlborough terroir matches up quite nicely with the Sauvignon Blanc grape vine and the winemaking talent for this kind of effort measures up to the undertaking, but is the end product necessarily better than French Sancerre?