Every once in a while, I feel the urge for a lip-smacking, grapefruit-driven, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

It started several years ago when the Wine Goddess -- my wife, Mary Lee -- and I took a spectacular fall trip to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Guess what we drank with our oysters, which were the most impeccably Oysters Rockefeller we've ever tasted -- Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.

(Suggestion: If you ever get to Halifax, go to The Press Gang Restaurant & Oyster Bar on Prince Street. The oysters are delivered fresh daily from 12 local farms. The friendly place features a nice wine menu, too.)

There's nothing like hitting upon a perfect food-wine pairing, and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is a go-to drink with shellfish, lobster, seafood appetizers and green salads. It's also a wonderful pick-me-up after work.

Kim and Erica Crawford launched the brand in 1996 from a back room in their Auckland home. Seven years later, they sold the label to Vincor International of Canada, which, three years later, sold it Constellation Brands. The Crawfords stayed on for several years to manage operations, all the while buying up land and vineyards for a new project they've founded, Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc.

They left the Kim Crawford brand in good hands. Winemaker Anthony Walkenhorst, who joined the winery in 2005, has won numerous regional and international awards. His philosophy is simple: Focus on flavor. Usually, when a big outfit buys up a local brand, the push for higher production volume leads to a drop in quality.


Kim Crawford’s new premier ’Signature’ Sauvignon Blanc is richer in flavor and texture.
Kim Crawford's new premier 'Signature' Sauvignon Blanc is richer in flavor and texture.
But it's been just the opposite under Walkenhorst and Constellation. The Kim Crawford brand is an international best-seller and the No. 1 Sauvignon Blanc sold in the United States, topping 1.2 million cases sold here in 2017.

Anyone who's tasted Kim Crawford knows there is no shortchanging of juicy, ripe, tropical fruit sensations. The plethora of aromas and flavors peaks with lime, grapefruit, kiwi and lemongrass. The delicious, citrusy mix results in a mouth-watering snap.

The suggested retail price for Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is $17.99, but it's on sale in New Hampshire for $11.95 through the end of the month.

The big news, however, is the release of a luxury Kim Crawford Signature Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, which takes this New Zealand experience to a whole new level. Walkenhorst selects the best grapes from small lots in several coastal vineyards. Steady sea breezes create cooler sites where the grapes ripen slowly, building harmonious acidity and concentration.

The bottle I sampled displayed richer texture and taste than Kim Crawford's entry label. Lemon and lime flavors, elegantly defined and layered, rolled across the tongue in waves of delightful Sauvignon Blanc expressions. The dry finish had zest and staying power.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are in a league of their own for producing distinctive wines with crisp, clean, exotic South Seas flavors. Kim Crawford Signature Reserve Sauvignon Blanc surely commands a spot atop the luxury lineup. It's now selling for $21.99 across the border, a $4 savings off the regular price.