In my opinion, there are few wine varieties of grapes in the wine kingdom that take on the characteristics of a particular location more than sauvignon blanc.
Regardless of its place of origin, not many white wines help to quench thirst or revive the palate quite like a sauvignon blanc. Originally of French origin, the grape has made its way across the globe, taking on a wide array of styles unique to every region where it is produced.
Whether it’s the grassy notes of New Zealand’s style, the tangy zip of Sancerre from the Loire Valley, Burgundy’s exceptional offering from the appellation of Saint-Bris, or the tropical fruit tones found in California’s version, sauvignon blanc displays unique traits from its country of origin.
When sauvignon blanc is grown in cooler climates, such as New Zealand, it tends to produce crisp wines with green grass, hay and lemon-lime characteristics. Grapes grown in warmer regions, such as California, offers rounder tropical fruit flavors, while its French cousins from the tiny Burgundian appellation of Saint-Bris and the more famous Sancerre region of the Loire Valley — the traditional gold standard of sauvignon blanc — tend to accent acidity and minerality.
While many sauvignon blancs are made without fermenting or aging the wine in oak barrels — in order to accent the crisp acidity — some winemakers use oak during the aging process to develop a touch of creaminess and toast to the finished product.
Between global competition and winemaking styles, consumers have a plethora of tasty choices and great values.
Here are a few exceptional wines to consider.
New Zealand has definitely become well-known for producing value-driven quality sauvignon blanc wines. Grown in cooler climates, the 2018 Matakana Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand displays scents of gooseberry and grassy notes on the nose. Ripe flavors of passion fruit and pear exhibit good intensity upfront and throughout the crisp finish. All you need is an assortment of shellfish and an ice bucket. $10
This first vintage of the 2018 Samuel Charles Sauvignon Blanc comes from the High Valley AVA in Lake County, California. Located at nearly 2,000 feet elevation, this is one of the highest sauvignon blanc vineyard sites in the state. Grown on steeply sloped, well-drained hillside soils, the fruit is exposed to warm days and cool nights, promoting the development of vibrant acidity. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks to preserve fresh fruit characteristics and partially aged on the lees for added richness on the palate. It features charming scents of white peaches, melon and nectarines in the bouquet. Bright flavors of melon, honeysuckle and passion fruit dominate on the front of the palate while grilled nectarine notes accent the crisp finish. Enjoy with your favorite rocking chair or hammock. $25
One of my absolute favorite sauvignon blanc wines comes from a tiny — and I mean really small — appellation located inside the Burgundy region of France, just a few miles southwest of the famed wine village of Chablis. Weighing in at just 250 acres of sauvignon blanc vines (I told you it was small), the AOC of Saint-Bris produces some of the best values in the Sauvignon Blanc universe. The 2017 Simonnet-Febvre Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc is proof. The nose is bursting with scents of grapefruit, mandarin orange and ripe peach. Flavors of summer stone fruit — think nectarine and peach — are highlighted by notes of pear and orange clove. The wonderfully complex finish is accented by abundant acidity and hints of salinity and spice. Best of all, this wine can be enjoyed young or saved for a future summer outing. $15