We usually try to keep the tech stuff on a tight leash, but some winemaking processes are worth noting as a guide to certain styles of varietals.
A case in point is chilled fermentation of white grapes in stainless steel, which is the method of vinification employed in the making of the 2008 Sacred Hill Marlborough Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (about $15 at wine shops and wine-savvy markets; the 2010 is reported to be even better than the '08).
This style of fermentation yields very crisp, clean wines that are vivid expressions of a given grape's signature qualities. In this case, the classic Marlborough nose delivers punchy pink grapefruit, which we expected, and a bit of banana, which we definitely did not. Grapefruit is beautifully prominent on the tongue, its zest rounded nicely by lime, honey and — another surprise — warm banana bread! All the fruits persist through a long clean finish with a delightfully dry mineral edge.
Given its exuberant fruit and exquisite dryness, this wine enters our pantheon of refreshing summer wines, functioning beautifully as an aperitif or a sundowner or paired with classic warm weather fare like grilled shrimp tacos or a big plate of fresh fruits and mild white cheeses.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.