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April 11, 2020, 7:52 a.m. EDT

This ‘tantalizing’ under-$20 wine is the perfect sip to get you through coronavirus lockdown

The Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ranks high among America’s favorites

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By Charles Passy


Kim Crawford Wines
In some ways, Kim Crawford helped create the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc boom, which was also driven by the relative affordability of his bottles, even as they earned accolades from top wine publications.

The bottle: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2019 , $17.99

The back story: It’s no secret that Americans are drinking more during the coronavirus pandemic. Wine sales, for example, soared by 66%, according to market researcher Nielsen, based on year-over-year figures for a period in March.

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It stands to reason that this particular bottle from New Zealand’s Marlborough region represents a small chunk of those sales. The Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is consistently the most-popular Sauvignon Blanc available in the U.S., based on sales data. For that matter, the retail site Wine.com said it was its best-selling bottle overall last year .

What’s behind the appeal? Part of it is the growing popularity of New Zealand wines — in particular, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. These are easy-to-drink, full-flavored white wines, known for “intense, mouth-watering acidity,” according to one oenophile .

And the Kim Crawford label — Kim is a man, by the way — has been at it for nearly 25 years. In some ways, Crawford helped create the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc boom, which was also driven by the relative affordability of his bottles, even as they earned accolades from top wine publications. In short, the Crawford Sauvignon Blanc has “a devoted, even fanatical, following,” says Kim Crawford Wines Vice President of Marketing Julie Rossman.

Kim Crawford Wines was eventually sold and is now part of Constellation Brands /zigman2/quotes/207737284/composite STZ -3.16%  , a major conglomerate of beer, wine and spirits brands. Crawford himself now has a new label, called Loveblock .

What we think about it: Sometimes the American public gets it right. The Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is about as tantalizing and delicious as an under-$20 bottle of wine gets, with bright, tart flavors. The label says you should pick up notes of everything from passion fruit to freshly cut grass.

How to enjoy it: Keep this nicely chilled and pair it with seafood (say, oysters) or vegetables (say, asparagus). Or just enjoy it as a before-dinner wake-the-palate sip.

Shares of Constellation Brands have been down 11% over the past three months, compared with a 17% decline for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.13%   and a 14% decrease for the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.44%  .

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Charles Passy is a Wall Street Journal reporter and frequent MarketWatch contributor based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @CharlesPassy.

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