2018 BARKER’S MARQUE ARONA SAUVINGNON BLANC – MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
Grape: 95% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Riesling; co-fermented
Winemaker: Simon Barker
Viticulturist: Vanessa Barker
Approximate Retail Price: $14
Color: Hues of bright daffodil, highly reflective and clear
Aroma: Bursts of apricot, papaya, and mango, with lemon and subtle yellow grapefruit undertones
Taste: Rich tropical flavors, orange zest, crisp acidity, refreshingly long finish
[DROPCAP] Many wine aficionados associate Marlborough, New Zealand, with sauvignon blanc – and why not? A fantastic region for such a varietal, it yields a unique style of the wine unmatched around the world. (Let’s never forget, though, that Marlborough does produce many other types of wine, including pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling.)
One of the subregions of Marlborough, the Awatere Valley, lies closest to the sea on the northern end of the southern island. Around 2004, Muritai Vineyard was planted in mostly sauvignon blanc by Barker’s Marque. The vineyard’s name, Muritai, translates from Maori as “sea breeze,” which seems appropriate because the vineyard sits roughly half a mile from the sea, letting the maritime breeze influence the growth of its grapes.
The vineyard’s mostly clay soil makes it a unique microclimate with great water retention, and that microclimate has enabled viticulturist Vanessa Barker and her winemaker husband Simon Barker to craft four distinct sauvignon blancs. Usually under such circumstances, vintners create different-tier wines, with accompanying price variations. However, Barker’s Marque, a company less concerned with profit than most, chose instead to have its four representations remain in a similar price range. By thus simply presenting consumers with a choice of styles, the vineyard has remained focused on sustainability, quality and style.
The Barkers takes a “less is more” approach to growing and producing wine, quoting themselves as saying “sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing.” This allows the expression of each of their wines to reflect natural growing conditions and terroir.
The four sauvignon blancs the couple produces are The Loop, Three Brooms, Ranga Ranga – and Arona. Characterizing all four is their tendency to defy the typical pink grapefruit attribute common to New Zealand sauvignon blancs. Instead, the focus falls more on a combination of minerality and fruit, allowing Barker’s Marque wines to stand out from their neighbors.
Arona’s more tropical attributes make it a perfect glass pour through the summer. Although still subtly showcasing the aforementioned pink grapefruit flavors, it also has refreshing minerality laced with pineapple and passionfruit.
Food Pairings: Arona pairs wonderfully with scallops, shrimp, and mussels, as well as beet salads, melted goat cheese with spicy tomato sauce, fresh herbs and light chicken dishes.
Certified Sommelier Stanley Browne owns Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves.