If you wonder why New Zealand's Marlborough sauv blancs have acquired such an enviable reputation among wine drinkers worldwide, you need look no further than the 2010 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (about $20 at wine shops and wine-savvy markets) for the answer.
This cool white wine's charms begin with its elegant pale platinum color in the glass. Take a minute to admire it before lifting the glass to your nose for a dose of the classic Marlborough aromas of clean and crisp grapefruit and gooseberry. Those signature fruits most certainly are present on the tongue, as well, but the leading flavor is luscious, ripe melon. Fresh lime comes in mid palate and gooseberry really pops on the very long, clean finish, yielding a gorgeous wine with both a lovely silky mouth feel and a delightfully flinty edge.
Overall, this is a superior and refreshing summer wine, absolutely unbeatable as an aperitif or sundowner. When pairing with foods, think first of chilled shellfish: raw cold-water oysters or Key West pink shrimp, of course, but also, and maybe best, the last of this year's Florida stone crab claws (the season ends May 15).
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.