The Kim Crawford brand lit the match in 1996 that ignited the modern Sauvignon Blanc craze in New Zealand. The under-$20 price was right, the style clean and refreshing, and the name easy to pronounce and remember. It caught on so quickly that Kim and Erica Crawford had trouble meeting the demand and sold the brand name (with no vineyards, no facility) for millions to Canada’s wine giant Vincor in 2003, which would then be bought by Constellation Brands in 2006. Constellation, an American firm, is the largest wine company in the world and has used its resources to maintain the quality and grow the brand. All the wines are available in well-stocked supermarkets. Kim Crawford is the top-selling New Zealand brand in the U.S.
>> New Zealand’s 2015 vintage was down 20 percent from the record-setting year of 2014 — an OK thing for wineries who still have plenty of wine to sell. More than half of the grape acreage in New Zealand is planted to Sauvignon Blanc.
>> Found at wine-searcher.com: In a 2013 posting, Donna Chisholm writes a revealing story about the Crawfords and their famous brand.
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand 2015, $17.99: The green herbal notes that are the signature of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc play more of a secondary role to the tropical fruit flavors of grapefruit, lime, ripe peach and pear. You pick up that tangy floral/herbal character in the long, persistent finish. (Note: Prices listed here are on the high end.)
Kim Crawford Pinot Noir South Island, New Zealand 2015, $19: Seems a shame to taste this wine so early in its life — it needs some aging to marry all the flavor components, but it’s still an enjoyable experience: aromas of cherry, raspberry, vanilla, dark chocolate, followed by soft tannins and firm acidity.
King Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay East Coast, New Zealand 2015, $16.99: There’s no oak to get in the way here: The lemon-passion fruit-lime zest fruit and steely acidity are front and center, and I agree with the winemaker notes that the palate offers a hint of lemon meringue pie. It’s a dry, refreshing Chardonnay — one of the world’s most notable unoaked Chardonnays.
You can reach Sandra Silfven at email@example.com.