Courtesy of Retailers
The world can’t seem to get enough Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The best examples from the last two vintages, 2020 and 2021, exemplify this popular style through bright fruit, mouthwatering acidity and a slippery texture. These traits are particularly welcome after much of the under-ripeness seen in the difficult ’17 and ’18 vintages. There’s only one problem: demand has outstripped supply. In 2021, New Zealand sold more wine than it made, forcing wineries to sell off stocks of previous vintages to meet demand in the international market.
Why the shortage? The culprit is likely climate change. Marlborough is dry—too dry— and yields have been down since 2017. At the start of the 2021 vintage, Marlborough producers, entering their third year of drought, needed the weather to cooperate. It didn’t. There were frosts and freezing temperatures in the spring which affected flowering and bunch size; and there was dry, windy weather in the summer which meant small berries that were low on juice. This resulted in a 21% lower crop than in 2020, and the smallest harvest since 2015.