So here’s New Zealander Peter Jackson. Not the filmmaker. He makes wines under two labels, Catalina Sounds (not the island) and Crowded House. Not the band. Recently he undertook a whirlwind trip to the States to show off his wines, which are trickling to our shores ever so slowly. (Watch for them in mid-2018.)
While in some ways typical of many of New Zealand’s wines, Jackson focuses on restraint, clearly attempting to complement the heavy tropical notes of these sauvignon blancs with minerality, while avoiding the lifelessness common in kiwi pinot noirs. Some say his sauvignon blanc is reminiscent of Sancerre, a comparison I can agree with.
We tasted through all of his current and upcoming releases, under both labels, all of which will sell for under $20 and all of which are great values. Thoughts on everything follow.
2015 Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough – Moderate pineapple/lychee notes here, but they’re filtered through flowery perfume. Very fresh, with a light, mineral edge. B+
2016 Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough – A bit drier, with more saline notes and the fruit dialed back a bit. A slight grassiness elevates the experience. A-
2016 Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough – Heavier with mango and lychee, with some saline and a somewhat rounder body than the crowded house line. A-
2017 Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough – “A bit braver,” says Jackson, who pushed winemaking in a slightly different direction, resulting in some atypical notes of orange and bacon fat, with restrained lychee notes. Strong on the mineral and herbal elements. A-
2015 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir Marlborough – Ample cola and cherry, with a bit of grip. Slightly savory and earthy, with a bit of pepper to it. A-
2016 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir Marlborough – More restrained, with a bit more acidity and an Old World feel to it. Quite dry, with a finish that shows off a bit of its underlying fruit. B+