New Zealand's enviable reputation as a wine producer rests solidly on a stellar collection of sauvignon blancs so tart and crisp that a first sip is like biting into a rain-washed green apple plucked from the tree on a cool autumn morning.
That idyllic land produces other varietals, too, of course, a sterling example of which is the 2007 Coopers Creek Gisborne Chardonnay (about $15 at wine shops and wine-savvy markets). This sturdy fruit-forward chard hails from a warm wine region and is produced in the unfussy, unoaked style we have come to prefer.
Its light citrus nose telegraphs the one-two punch of citrus, especially lime and tangerine, and tropical stone fruits, notably mango, that bursts on the tongue at first sip. Its sunny crispness rests on a bedrock flintiness that guarantees a flawlessly clean and refreshing finish. The wine's nearly chartreuse color in the glass would suggest an herbiness that actually appears only as an understated grace note on the finish.
This Gisborne chard is a fine food wine and will pair handsomely with a variety of dishes. Our first thought was seafood but it also would go nicely with grilled or roasted chicken or hearty fall vegetables prepared in the same manner.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.