There aren’t many wines out there where you can score a great example for around $12. Sure, there is a lot of inexpensive wine, and some of it is good, but does it speak to you about varietal character? I’m not going to delve into terroir here because frankly that’s a lot to ask of a $12 wine, but is it too much to ask your wine to taste like the grapes that were used to make it?
In some cases, yes it is. It’s simply too difficult to grow great pinot noir or nebbiolo and get it in the bottle for $12, but sauvignon blanc on the other hand may very well still be the greatest value wine there is. Simply put, the character of sauvignon blanc, grassy, citrussy, aromatic, focused ,and crisp, is, for a number of reasons, easy to capture even when growers push their yields up and plant sauvignon blanc in less than the perfect place.
One of the reasons for this is simply the fact that many of the traits we tend to look for in sauvignon blanc, that crisp acidity, bright flavors, and even the grassy, peppery aromatic component that can make certain sauvignon blancs a love-it or hate-it proposition, tend to be significantly developed even when the grapes are less than perfectly, or physiologically ripe. That allows you to plant sauvignon blanc in cooler spots, or crop it relatively heavily and still be able to produce a wine that is not only recognizably sauvignon blanc, but sauvignon blanc in a style that many people adore!
So let’s dive in to the value end of the sauvignon blanc pool this week. I’m going to follow up next week with some premium offerings and it will be interesting to see if they are in fact worth the uptick in pricing. Wines like the Cono Sur Bicicleta, Fire Road, and the Waterbrook make a strong argument for the wines at this price point, though they did stand out in this crowd which also featured more than its fair share of duds. Interestingly, these three wines come from various regions around the globe, adding further evidence to the idea that stand-out sauvignon blanc can be made just about anywhere.
— Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth