2019 McBride Sisters Collection Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Wine of the Week with Annette Tomei
McBride Sisters Collection has a great story. Two real sisters, Andréa and Robin. Two different mothers, same father. Raised on different continents, both in prominent wine regions. They didn’t even know about each other until they were 16 and 25 years old, respectively. Andréa grew up in Marlborough, New Zealand. Robin grew up in Monterey, California. Both grew up with a passion for wine.
The most successful black owned wine company
When the sisters finally met, they turned their shared interests, skills, and entrepreneurial spirit into a business. They became the first African-American sisters to establish a wine company. They are now the largest black owned wine business in the world.
McBride Sisters Collection
McBride Sisters is a different type of wine business. It’s a négociant. A company that buys grapes, juice, or base wine, in bulk, to vinify and/or blend then bottle under their own label. This is most common in Burgundy, in France. You are probably already familiar with a couple big ones, like Louis Jadot or JC Boisset. This can be a successful business model and can produce good wines.
Their other wine labels
The label, McBride Sisters Collection, is the sisters’ third. The first was eco.love in New Zealand, then Truvée Wines, in partnership with Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines. McBride Sisters Collection also produces the Black Girl Magic line of wines, and the on-trend She Can line of canned wines. I haven’t tasted those yet, but as a fan of the canned wine trend, I’m looking for She Can next.
The McBride Sisters provide a vision of success in a competitive industry for all women, women of color in particular. Not only do they produce enjoyable wines, they draw attention to the fact that a “wine lifestyle” is a color-full one. Pleasure shared.
Supporting black female business owners
The sisters also give back with real funds and effort. Their She Can Thrive Professional Development Fund 2020 is doing the work of helping black female business owners not just survive, but thrive in the wine industry.
My 2019 McBride Sisters Sauvignon Blanc Review
Andréa McBride grew up in Marlborough, New Zealand. She helped out in her uncle’s vineyard there. She may have even helped plant some of the vines whose fruit is in this wine.
The 2019 vintage of McBride Sisters Collection Sauvignon Blanc is pale straw color with crystal clarity. Aromas of tropical fruits like guava, pineapple, and mango carried me off to an island in my mind. On the palate the first thing I noticed was the mouthfeel. Silky and smooth like an island breeze. Not zingy and sharp with acidity, as I usually expect. Still, there was enough acidity to provide structure and a clean finish.
On the palate, this wine is lush with mango, ripe sweet grapefruit, and a floral back note that maintained the island vibe throughout the tasting. For those who love the flavors of Sauvignon Blanc but are not fond of the acid bite, this is the perfect wine for you. It is highly drinkable and enjoyable. This is a medium body dry wine with 13% ABV made with 100% stainless steel fermented and aged Sauvignon Blanc.
Pairing food with this Sauvignon Blanc
I recommend this wine on its own, with snacks, or dinner. Since the acidity is noticeably lower than typical, I’d avoid acidic or salty foods, just to keep the balance. Creamy goat cheese, Dungeness crab dipped in melted butter… both good choices. I served it with sautéed tiny tomatoes and shredded rotisserie chicken on a bed of arugula with feta cheese crumbled over the top.
Where to buy McBride Sisters Collection Wines
Doing More to Support Black Owned Wineries
I’m looking for ways to do more to support black-owned wine companies. I’m inspired by the times, of course. But minority owned wineries are not a new thing to me. Realizing they need to be supported, however, is new to me. I’ve long enjoyed the wines from Brown Estates, Vision Cellars, and Maison Noir (OPP et al). They are well-crafted and made by passionate people.
I met David Brown and Mac McDonald over 15 years ago when I lived in Napa. They love their land, they work their land, and that comes through in the terroir of their wines. André Hueston Mack has dedicated his career, first, to serving wines, then to making them. His Oregon winery, Maison Noir, produces a range of expressions of the regional terroir. OPP, Love Drunk, and others are priced to drink and enjoy now. But he also crafts wines that go head-to-head with good Burgundy.
These are the wineries I intended to write about. There are others as well. A few that I am very much looking forward to tasting and learning more about. But I am not able to. Not right now, at least. Why? Because locating these wines in Washington State was nearly impossible. I could have ordered some of them from California and Oregon. But, honestly, August is no time to have wine shipped long distances. And, it’s expensive.
So, I’m going a little “off brand” at the moment, voicing frustration. I expected to see merchants highlighting or featuring black-owned wineries on their websites. What I found? Wine shops putting the onus on me… making me do the research, then run a list of names through their search boxes to no avail. I’ll keep trying. These are uncertain times, and everyone is facing challenges right now. Time to support each other, folks. Businesses are missing a great opportunity to make a statement, and a sale.
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