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Kiwi Kim

Seriously, I was going to take a break from summer wines this week.

Then I sat through a couple of tastings. While I did enjoy some reds that will surface in subsequent weeks, one Sauvignon Blanc caught my attention.

Kim Crawford 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is just hitting stores -- and can be found for as much as $5 below its suggested retail of $21.99. That makes it a deal -- particularly given its attention-getting characteristics.

New Zealand, and especially the Marlborough Valley, is famed for Sauv Blanc -- wines that are usually branded with terms like "citrusy," "acidic" and "grapefruit like."

And those are exactly the characteristics I did not find on first and follow up tastes of this wine. Instead, I found great up front herbaceous aromas and a taste that co-mingled grassy and organic characteristics with wonderful organic tasting overtones -- and even a hint of melon.. The finish was clean, crisp and just acidic enough to keep my attention.

Sauvignon Blanc is the predominant grape planted across the region -- which is well known for a landscape formed by glaciers and a layer of silty soil atop rocky substrate. Those elements add complexity from the terroir.

Grapes from all over the Marlborough Region are used in this blend; vineyards are selected by flavor profile for desired outcome. To retain the integrity of the grapes -- which are frequently vineyard-tasted to insure optimum picking time -- fruit is night harvested, when the temperatures are down. Picking at about 46° F means less oxidation takes place, making it easier to manage in the winery.

When you hear things like that from a wine maker, it is a sign of a craftsman who understands that wine making occurs in the vineyard -- not through artificial manipulation of juice through additives, heavy oaking or human interference.

While Crawford's information does not indicate a gravity-fed operation, it a growing trend among serious winemakers who realized that introduction of pumps and other moving parts also affected the taste of wine. In this type of wine making, juice only flows by gravity from, in this case, stainless steel fermenting tanks to stainless steel aging tanks.

Bottom line: The less human interference, the better.

Kim Crawford 2008 Sauvignon is very food friendly, even with tricky to pair asparagus. I like mine with grilled meats -- chicken or pork -- or a fresh, crisp fish taco.

About the wines

I realized after a reader's email last week that I should define what makes my cut for a column -- in terms of accessibility.

My guiding goal is to write about wines that are readily accessible in the Savannah marketplace -- in either package stores, wine shops or restaurants.

Occasionally, I attend a tasting in Atlanta where I taste wines that are available in Georgia, but then never make the trip to Savannah. Some limited allocation wines sell out in Atlanta; others are just in short supply.

If you look for a wine, and can't find it, ask your favorite retailer. They may have shipments coming. Or, if you're someone who buys a case, they'll often be able to special order for you -- even though they have no intention of carrying the wine on their shelves.

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