The winery’s seductive flagship sauvignon, which has a cult following, comes from one vineyard block and is fermented and aged in barrel. It’s powerful and richly textured, and it ages brilliantly, as I learned when I tasted vintages going back to 2004.
When covering a winegrowing nation like New Zealand - known for a signature grape in a signature style - the challenge is to look beyond the obvious in order to see the direction in which the country is headed.
Dog Point founders James Healy and Ivan Sutherland met while working for one of New Zealand's most successful labels, Cloudy Bay, where they were winemaker and viticulturist, respectively. In 2002, the two quit and started Dog Point. By exploring different winemaking techniques and grape sources, they find themselves once again on the vanguard of New Zealand wine, leading a movement of producers who want to coax more elegance and refinement out of their grapes, as well as make more ageworthy bottlings.
Dog Point draws on its 200-acre Marlborough vineyard. The approach includes low-yielding vineyards, hand-picking, wild yeast fermentations and plenty of lees contact. The wines show tremendous complexity, with lovely aromas and rich textures.
Dog Point was among the first Marlborough brands to focus on Pinot Noir closely planted on slopes in the hillsides rather than on the valley floor. Here, clay-loam soils help bring out plum and earth flavors. The winery also makes a Chardonnay with plenty of precision.
But this is Marlborough, so Sauvignon Blanc is also in play. The standard Sauvignon Blanc bottling is widely distributed in the United States (their other wines can be harder to find). I'm always impressed by the complexity of the Section 94 bottling, a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc that is fascinating and effusive. Sutherland once told me, "We're trying to destroy the myth that Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough has to be consumed immediately." Having tasted verticals of their wines, I believe they have succeeded.