For me, the most pleasant surprise of the last few years has been the rise of New Zealand as an internationally respected producer of quality wines. Maybe it’s my affinity for the underdog or possibly the hope that if the Kiwis can steal the spotlight then, someday, so can we Canucks.

New Zealand would seem the least likely country to spin the wine world right round. Stranger still is that in a red wine market they were able to do it with premium-priced whites made with the Sauvignon Blanc grape.

It all comes back to the aforementioned quality and personalities like Kim Crawford whose 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($19.95 - $21.99) is a crazy good crowd pleaser with zesty lemon/lime flavours and a refreshingly tropical finish.

The gang at Coopers Creek inject a bit of humour into their 2007 Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush Sauvignon Blanc ($13.55 - $17.83) to balance out its namesake aromas (gooseberries often smell like kitty you-know-what) and soft, citrusy personality.

Both have great dining room versatility: Try with a big plate of oysters, any white meat, creamy pasta sauces or all by their lonesome.

Peter Rockwell is the everyman’s wine writer, working in the liquor industry for more than 25 years and travelling the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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