Sitting pretty on the northern tip of New Zealand's south island, Marlborough has become synonymous with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. As well it should be – Marlborough is the primary region for those delicious, citrusy, summer-lovin' wines with vibrant acidity and pungent, grassy, grapefruit flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is the main grape here; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling are also made.
Notable FactsThe region has well-drained alluvial loam soils, which are perfect for grape growing. The grapes receive a good deal of sunshine during the day, but recovers in the cool evenings. Marlborough's growing season is long, which helps foster the gradual, even ripening of the grapes. Not made for much aging, the Sauvignon Blancs of Marlborough are of the buy ‘em and drink ‘em class of wine. Expect little vintage variation here - quantity differs more than quality.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.