It’s hard to imagine a vineyard on the other side of the globe, where kiwi birds frolic among grapes that happen to grow in the opposite direction, and the rest of the country looks like a Lord of the Rings movie set. I’m talking about Marlborough, New Zealand, a large coastal region that is famous for more than Frodo: its tasty Sauvignon Blanc.
For the most part, the only similarity to New Zealand’s wine country to the movie is the massive Lord of the Rings 3 fight scene, where soldiers line up on huge flatlands in a head-on clash, similar in size to vineyards placed in rows like plaid patchwork. As spring is upon us here where grapes are in bloom, wineries down under are having their harvest.
As a beer lover, one of the most appealing IPA hops gets its name from the Sauvignon grape: Nelson Sauvin hops, which share similar aromatic notes as a glass of sauv blanc. I didn’t believe it until I recently tasted a wine that had me drooling like I have from Alpine Beer Co’s iconic Nelson IPA from when it was actually made in Alpine by Pat McIlhenney and family. Ponga is the wine, and oh boy does it deliver like a sticky double west coast IPA.
Ponga Sauvignon Blanc (2017) hits the glass with a splash, and a few quick swirls of the stem will wake up this liquid to the point of it taunting your palate like a ceremonial haka dance. Citrus, nectary-peach, and tropical fruits dominate the nose, and the bright acidity turns on the water-works with this light and dry beast. Pair it with our warm weather, a friend, and maybe some LOTR watching on Netflix with some chill.
Find it by the glass Macallans Public House in Brea, Boxcar in the Anaheim Packing House, or via online retailers. pongawine.com
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!