Bright. Buoyant. Exuberant. All three adjectives describe Kim Crawford 2008 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (about $15 to $18 at supermarkets and big box stores). This is one of the wines that sparked the craze in this country for sauv blancs from the other side of the world (as well as leading the way in subbing screw-top caps for corks) and it still ranks high on our list of favorite wines from anywhere.
We remember vividly our first taste years ago at a restaurant in Chicago. We had ordered a big platter of grilled veggies fragrant with olive oil and sought our waiter's advice on the appropriate wine. After learning we were fans of Sancerre, he proudly trotted out a chilled bottle of the Kim Crawford. We had not, he assured us, ever tasted anything quite like it. He was right.
The pronounced grapefruit zing that pounced at first sip astonished and delighted us. We emptied our glasses before the veggies arrived, cooing over the incredibly clean long finish. When we tucked into the grilled peppers, eggplants, squash, endives and fennel the surprise intensified. The wine sang lovely counterpoint to the room temp medley of assertive flavors and, like a Sancerre, paired perfectly with the warm goat cheese we spread on toast points, too.
That versatility is one of the beauties of this wine. We drink it often and with everything from grilled salmon and chilled Florida stone crab claws to fettuccine Alfredo with sweet Italian sausage and peas. It also makes a great aperitif before moving on to rare steaks and a big red.
Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.