Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect wine for August. It's bright flavors of cut grass, grapefruit and lime transform simple summer fare into memorable meals (try the Goat Cheese Salad, Warm or Not). And it's crisp acidity and medium body make it the perfect quaff on a hot afternoon. Just don't limit it to the season. Reliable, consistent, yet never, ever boring, this grape makes a tasty impression all year round. Serve it fearlessly at any occasion.
In France, its ancestral home, Sauvignon Blanc creates two styles of dry wine: a fuller, more substantial version from Bordeaux, and a steely, lean one from the Loire Valley. Those from Bordeaux, herbacious and rich from oak ageing and the semillion grape, are best known from Graves, Entre de Mers and Pessac-Leognan. By contrast, those from the flinty Loire Valley, most famously Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, express the tight minerality of the extraordinary terroir. Big ticket wines worthy of their stellar reputation, similar examples from Cheverny and Touraine offer terrific alternatives.
For decades, even centuries, these two French regions served as role models for growers in California, Italy, South Africa and Chile. But then, in 1973, two brothers from New Zealand planted a few vines at their fledgling vineyard and created a whole new style. In just a few short years, the cool climate and modern technology combined to create a uniquely kiwi wine that took the world by storm. Intense, but not overpowering, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are packed with pure fruit flavor, clean acidity and a surprisingly delicate body. And talk about summer-ready, they almost always come with screw caps.
Here are a few under $15
- Idaba Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa, 2005 $8: A grassy and bright value inspired by NZ
- Terra Andina Sauvignon Blanc, Chile, 2005 $8: Aromatic, crisp and herbacious, with a great finish.
- Culley Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, 2006 $13: A bright, fresh and lively expression of the region.
- Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, 2006 $13: Elegant yet assertive, a touch of minerality
- Delaille Cheverny, Loire Valley, France, 2006 $13: Crisp, distinctive with lots of zest. Buy it!
- Chateau Magneau, Graves, France, 2005 $13: A great blend with semillion in the Bordeaux tradition.
- Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2006 $13: A big, zesty treat, but not too heavy. All fruit and fun.
And for just a bit more:
- Clos Roche Blanche Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine France, 2006, $15: Intense, but still in the flinty Loire Valley style. Organic.
- Goisot Sauvignon Blanc, Burgundy, France, 2005 $23: Crisp, clean grapefruit flavors with the mineral finish of the nearby Loire wines. Lovely and rare to find this from Chardonnay land.
- Jolivet Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, 2005 $24: Elegant classic with a touch of lime. Lean and well balance.