Varietally Correct: New World Sauvignon Blanc

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Varietally Correct: New World Sauvignon Blanc

Who wants a glass or two of white wine this summer?

Who wants a glass or two of white wine this summer?

Wine consumers are often confused by wines made primarily from a single grape variety.  The bottles typically display the name of that variety on the label but there are a lot of them and more are created all the time as wine producers realize that such specificity can lead to higher margins and, perhaps, higher quality as well.  Here I focus on New World sauvignon blanc, an excellent addition to any summer table.

The view from Lisa's back yard

The view from Santa Rosa in Sonoma County

Sauvignon blanc is a green-skinned grape variety from Bordeaux in France that most likely gets its name from the French word sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”).  A possible descendant of savagnin, sauvignon blanc is planted in many of the world’s wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine.  The grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac.  Sauvignon blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Moldova and California.  Some California sauvignon blancs are also called fume blanc, though this is often perceived to be a different type of wine.

Depending on the climate, flavors can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical.  When slightly chilled, sauvignon blanc pairs exceedingly well with fish and cheese, particularly chèvre, and is also one of the few wines that can handle sushi.  It is usually consumed young, as it does not particularly benefit from aging, except for some dry and sweet white Bordeaux that typically have sauvignon blanc as a major component and can age 15 years or more.

Sonoma Blue Rock VIneyards

Looking down the vines

Today’s notes were gathered from recent samples and at industry gatherings and mostly concern California offerings.  I include my tasting notes at the end of the column in shorthand that goes like this: appearance (if relevant)/aroma/taste/acidity & finish.  If I can find a domestic retail price then I list it (if there is more than one I err on the higher side), with “N/A” meaning that the wine is not generally available in the U.S.



Spain is good!

Spain is good!

Ben has been invited to tour the food and wine of Catalonia (including Barcelona) at the beginning of June.  Follow along with him on Twitter (@WineOnTheRoad), Facebook (Wine On The Road), LinkedIn (Benjamin Weinberg) and Foursquare (Ben Weinberg).



Ben has an article about wineries that keep and employ bees on their properties in the spring edition of Edible Marin and Wine Country Magazine (  The summer edition will include stories on the recent Napa earthquake and also the Rutherford Dust Society.  Check it out!



Sunset in Piemonte - amazing!

Sunset in Piemonte – amazing!

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Wine On The Road

Wine On The Road

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Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $22

Ltyel/goosb ginger/srch flint/hilong


Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection 2013 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $17

Paleyel/pricklypear pine/limeade sarsaparilla/hilong 16+


Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $18

Pale yellow/grapefruit, pineapple, gooseberry/lime, sour apple, honeydew melon/hilong


Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc Regional Collection 2014 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $13

Sappy pine, honey/grfrt pinea zing!/hilong


Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc Icon 2014 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $22

Bright green-yellow/sweet pineapple, papaya/flint, ash, lime/hilong


Kendall-Jackson Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California, U.S.) $13

Green-yellow/lime, tangerine/passion fruit, saline/himod


William Hill Sauvignon Blanc North Coast 2013 (California, U.S.) $17

Pea yellow/Meyer lemon, red grapefruit/Kaffir lime, lychee, passion fruit, pineapple/hilong


Edna Valley Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Central Coast, California) $15

Medium-yellow/orange zest, grapefruit/lime, hay/himod


Wente Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Louis Mel 2013 (Livermore Valley, California) $15

Straw yellow/guava, honeydew, grass/gooseberry, lime zest, ginger/himod


Steven Kent Winery Sauvignon Blanc Lola 2013 (Livermore Valley, California) $24

pale yellow/marshmallow lemon peep/yellow squash/himod


Matanzas Creek Winery Sauvignon Blanc Bennett Valley 2013 (Sonoma County, California) $32

Pale yellow/lychee, green herbs/yellow pear, lime zest/hilong.


Matanzas Creek Winery Sauvignon Blanc Helena Bench Knights Valley 2013 (Sonoma County, California) $40

Pale yellow/white peach, flint/nectarine, white pepper, white flowers/hilong.


Trione Sauvignon Blanc River Road Ranch RRV 2013 (Sonoma County, California) $23

Greenish yellow/green melon, peach/yellow pear, nectarine/hilong


Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc Limited Release Estate 2013 (Napa Valley, California) $35

Greenish yellow/white peach, lemongrass/lime, grapefruit, basil/hilong


Grgich Hills Estate Fume Blanc 2013 (Napa Valley, California) $30

Pale yellow/kiwi, pineapple, lemongrass/white peach, flint/hilong


Flora Springs Sauvignon Blanc Soliloquy Oakville (Napa Valley, California) $25

Bright yellow/white flowers, lime/grapefruit, pear/hilong


Hourglass Sauvignon Blanc Estate 2013 (Napa Valley, California) $40

Green-gold/boysenberry, flint/white peach, lime peel, ash/hilong