Sauvignon Blanc – the “Other Other” White Grape!

With the warmer weather finally coming to the Lower Mainland of BC in the last couple of weeks, I have been drinking more white wines lately. And that has included a number of remarkable Sauvignon Blancs – so thought I would write about them!

Often, it seems, Sauvignon Blancs are ignored. Chardonnay gets the most attention – both good and bad – along with Pinot Gris and Riesling. Viognier is also becoming more and more popular.

But how many times do you hear people raving about Sauvignon Blanc?

And yet it has a fairly distinguished pedigree. In Bordeaux, it is a partner (with Semillon) of some great dry white wines. And it stands by itself in the Loire Valley, where it is the grape that makes Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. In the ‘new world’, as well, Sauvignon Blanc has made a name for itself, particularly in New Zealand.

But you rarely hear about ‘great’ Sauvignon Blanc wines! Why is that?

Part of the answer might be that is often a blended grape, not standing on its own, in the same way as Cabernet Franc or Petite Verdot. Many people also see it as a wine that needs food (particularly shellfish) and doesn’t drink well by itself.

Finally, there is a style of Sauvignon Blanc — usually from New Zealand — that can be not only quite herbal, but even smell like cat’s pee! Nothing “great” about that…

In my experience, however, there are some great ones, as long as you define ‘greatness’ to mean flavourful, fruity, reasonably priced and easy to drink.

Giesen from New Zealand is a perfect example. Year after year it provides ripe — but bone dry — white grapefruit, crisp and delicious, all for < $15.

'White grapefruit' is my common theme when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, and two BC wineries are perfect examples. Howling Bluff – from Naramata in the Okanagan – is one, offering an explosion of grapefruit for a couple of bucks more ($18.95). Same with the wine from La Frenz (also from Naramata), which has a touch more finesse, making it at great wine for $22! Put either of these wines in a blind tasting and their foreign counterparts would be embarrassed!

So next time it is warm out and you are looking for a white wine option, try chilling a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. The grape on the bottle might not make it sound 'great', but you may be surprised about what you taste in your mouth!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

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