Sauvignon blancs from the 2023 vintage are just starting to hit the shelves. I have tasted only a handful so far, all from Marlborough, but the wines were even better than I expected. 

Quantity was down by 4% on the previous year. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m told that buyers in the UK and US are opening their chequebooks. They can’t afford to miss out on a wine that needs to be chilled down and ready to go during the northern hemisphere summer. 

Buoyant exports will put pressure on domestic sauvignon sales. You will need to move fast to get your hands on the best wines. 

I usually encourage wine lovers to “try before you buy”, but the way the market is shaping up, it may be best to “buy before you miss out”. 

For the first time, I have selected a handful of reliable labels that I believe are as safe as houses. 

If you plan to buy in bulk, it might be worth inviting a few friends to a super-savie party. Get everyone to bring a bottle of 2023 Marlborough sauvignon blanc together with a plate of appropriately matching food (smoked salmon or smoked mussels are my favourites). 

You can make the occasion as serious or as social as you like but don’t forget to get your guests to vote for their favourite wine. If one earns a large share of the votes, it might be worth taking orders at the party and negotiating a sharp price from a winery or retailer. 

Sauvignon blancs from the 2023 vintage are just starting to trickle onto the market, but that trickle will become a torrent in another 2-3 months.

Here is a short list of wines that might be worth considering. The prices are from the 2022 vintage wines so are indicative only.  

Clos Henri 2023 Otira Glacial Stones Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $36
Clos Henri 2023 Waimaunga Windblown Clays Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $36
Frenchman Henri Bourgeois is a successful sauvignon blanc maker in the Sancerre region of France. He loved Marlborough sauvignon blanc so much that he established a winery there a number of years ago and has produced a string of successful wines ever since. It is interesting to compare sauvignon blanc grown on stony soils with sauvignon from clay soils. The latter is a little richer and more complex than the one grown on Otira glacial stones. Both these wines are terrific examples of Marlborough sauvignon.

Greywacke 2023 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $30
The 2022 wine was one of the best from that vintage. Greywacke owner/winemaker Kevin Judd was winemaker and then general manager at Cloudy Bay wines for many years. That experience is evident in his own label. This is an intense, punchy and complex wine that has the X-factor.  

Rapaura Springs 2023 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $27.90
Rapaura Springs is a substantial producer of reliably good sauvignon at attractive prices. Made in the classic Marlborough style, these wines deliver intense flavours with pronounced passionfruit characters and an undercurrent of capsicum and grapefruit.

Nautilus 2023 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $25
Nautilus makes sauvignon with finesse. Winemaker Clive Jones uses a light touch to bring out the best in his typically elegant wines. They don’t grab your attention like the Rapaura Springs wine above but are subtly seductive and deliciously drinkable.

Villa Maria 2023 Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $24.99
Villa Maria produces two top sauvignon blanc labels, one from the Wairau Valley and the other from the cooler Awatere Valley. Both are excellent, although I tend to favour the richer, riper Wairau Valley wine. If you like mature, bottle-aged sauvignon blanc, this wine might appeal. Drink with up to four or five years of bottle age.

Rimapere 2023 Baron Edmond de Rothschild Plot 101 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $45
This was produced by a distinguished French wine group from their best plot of vines. A portion of wine was barrel-fermented to add complexity and to give the wine a richer texture. The result is a terrific Marlborough sauvignon with a slight French accent. I love it.

Cloudy Bay 2023 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $39
Cloudy Bay – owned for the past 20 years by the French luxury-goods group LVMH – helped put New Zealand sauvignon blanc on the world wine map and has maintained a high level of quality ever since with a style that has gradually evolved since the first vintage in 1985.

Greystone 2023 Organic Sauvignon Blanc, North Canterbury, $32
If you feel like a change from Marlborough-style sauvignon blanc, try this little beauty, made by rockstar winemaker Dom Maxwell from North Canterbury grapes. I love this wine with its distinctive blackcurrant leaf character and rich, mouth-filling texture. It is a crisp and refreshing sauvignon, a perfect wine for summer drinking.

Dog Point 2023 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $30
This organically grown wine is a winner in challenging seasons as well as favourable vintages like 2023. It has purity and power with energy and concentration supported by juicy, mouth-watering acidity. For $15 more, you can buy Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc, a tantalisingly complex and teasingly funky wine that has developed a cult following.