It’s difficult to believe that sauvignon blanc was once a wine that was well-known in France — the Loire Valley and Bordeaux — but few places elsewhere. California wineries once had more chenin blancs in their repertoires than sauvignon blancs. Robert Mondavi even gave it a more colorful name, fume blanc, to increase its popularity.
But today it trails only chardonnay in popularity as a wine-by-the-glass at American bars or by the bottle on restaurant menus. Part of this ubiquity is that sauvignon, like chardonnay, thrives in many places around the world.
Here are 13 — a winemaker’s case — from five different regions:
Robert Mondavi “To Kalon” Napa Valley fume blanc reserve 2012 ($40)
Quite a change from the old days with Mondavi fume blancs, as this one is more in the Marlborough style — tart, green fruity, and not terribly complex, although there are some mineral notes.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Napa Valley fume blanc 2013 ($20)
Quite nice for the price — creamy, juicy, welcoming flavors of green apples and gooseberries with little tugs of tannin.
Cliff Lede Napa Valley sauvignon blanc 2013 ($24)
Lots of intensity, but the wine seems to have a sugary juiciness, which to me is a bit disconcerting. Nice flavors, though, of lime and white peach. Perhaps a wine for aging?
Line 39 California sauvignon blanc 2013 ($11)
Full-bodied. Little bit of funkiness, somewhat like overripe grapefruit, and the wine could use a bit more crispness in the finish.
Waterstone Napa Valley sauvignon blanc 2013 ($18)
Vibrant quince fruitiness and moderately full-bodied. It’s long on the palate and quite refreshing.
Macari “Los Aguas” North Fork white wine 2013 ($27)
A blend with some sauvignon along with chardonnay and riesling, it has a green-fruit nose with a combo of kiwi and lime flavors, a rounder wine, full-bodied with a good finish.
Macari “Katherine’s Field” North Fork of Long Island sauvignon blanc 2013 ($23)
Lots of flavors of white grapes, lime and grass. Moderate body with good acidity, crisp but not cutting, and light tannins.
Nobilo Marlborough sauvignon blanc 2014 ($11)
Minerally, with juicy lemon-lime flavors.
Nobilo “Icon” Marlborough sauvignon blanc 2014 ($17)
Quite grassy but mellow toward the front with a sharp, citrusy finish.
Kim Crawford Marlborough sauvignon blanc 2014 ($15)
Typical Marlborough fruitiness — limes, ripe kiwi — but with some creaminess, dusty tannins and skin-like piquancy at the edges. Quite nice.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2011 ($24)
Firm fruitiness with lime dominating, then a creamy yet crisp finish.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2013 ($24)
A very nice wine that tastes somewhat more mature than the 2011. It has a medium body with tart apple, brioche, and creamy flavors.
Trivento “Decopas” Mendoza sauvignon blanc 2013 ($9)
Lots of nice tart fruit, more on the tropical fruit spectrum than straight citrus.