Of the so-called international white wine grapes — those that first proved their “nobility” in the greatest vineyards of France and were subsequently planted around the world — chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are two that have shown the ability to thrive and make superior wines in both the old and new world.
Here are some recent examples tasted:
2013 Flora Springs “Soliloquy” Oakville sauvignon blanc ($25) - I tasted some red fruit notes in here, unusual for a white — rare, even — along with the more standard green herbal flavors typical of some styles of sauvignon, plus lots of refreshing minerality. It has a soft body, but a nice, tight finish.
2013 Stinson Virginia sauvignon blanc ($23) - This shows the green, gooseberry side of sauvignon with a great mouthfeel and a light chalkiness in the finish.
2011 Chateau de Chantegrive ($18) - This is the entry-level white — a 50/50 sauvignon/sémillon blend — from the well-respected Graves estate, and it is pleasant and uncomplicated with nice green apple and lime notes and lightly prickly tannins.
2012 Chateau de Sours Bordeaux blanc ($16) - Whites from the Right Bank are less common than on the Left, and this sauvignon-dominates one has lots of green-apple flavors, a trace of carbon, and refreshing lime.
2006 Moet et Chandon Grand Vintage ($75) - A blend of 43 percent chardonnay and 57 percent from the two pinots, the GV has delicious toast and savory dried herbs with notes of geranium leaf. It is full-bodied, yet elegant and very fresh, with echoes of lemon and lots of fine mousse.
2012 Robert Mondavi Carneros chardonnay reserve ($40) - Very nice blending of berries with barrel, with pleasant flavors of apple and sappy wood. Fresh, full, but good minerality and acidity.
2013 Raeburn Russian River Valley chardonnay ($NA) - Spiced baked apple flavors with lively acidity and hints of butterscotch — a big wine.
2012 Domaine Laroche “Saint Martin” Chablis ($26) - On the fruity/sweet side of Chablis with crisp apple flesh and skins and good minerality.
2012 Domaine Laroche “Les Vaudevey” Chablis premier cru ($41) - Deeper, more-rounded flavors of tart apples with good minerality that leaves you saying, “Now, that was satisfying.” My Pick of the Litter.
2012 Laroche “Les Vaillons Vielles Vignes” Chablis premier cru ($47) - Elegant, yet substantial, with notes of peach and apricot skin and tons of minerality.