Wine: Great Value Sauvignon Blanc Wines From Around the World

Over the past weeks I decided to taste my way around the world of Sauvignon Blanc wines. Overall, I was extremely pleased with what I tasted, showing that you rarely go wrong with a Sauvignon Blanc. That said, I did taste some that were over-worked, viscous, too-sweet on-the-finish, and overly alcoholic. Once again Chile seems to top in terms of value, with lots of refreshing and juicy examples for around $10. Bordeaux also offers excellent value with many wines tasted under $15.

I did not include New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc this time, as I have covered these wines in an earlier post.

All About Sauvignon Blanc

Native to France, Sauvignon Blanc gives us the great white wines of the Loire (Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé) as well as White Bordeaux. However, it is probably New Zealand, with its racy, zesty style of Sauvignon Blanc that has done most to promote the popularity of the variety over the past decade. Beyond New Zealand, there is a world of Sauvignon Blanc wine to be enjoyed.

Sauvignon Blanc is an aromatic and high acid grape variety. It has a very definite personality which wine drinkers either love or hate. It is very well suited to both producing varietal wines, as well as forming part of a blend. White Bordeaux wines are generally a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and sometimes Muscadelle. In Western Australia Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends are more common than varietal Sauvignon Blanc.

As an aromatic variety, most Sauvignon Blanc wines are unoaked, except for high-end white Bordeaux, and some styles from California. Sauvignon Blanc buds late and ripens early. Therefore it does not need a very warm site to ripen. It prefers moderate to cooler sites, with ample sunshine, and a long slow growing season period, to ripen all those delicious aromas and flavors we associate with Sauvignon Blanc.

Today excellent Sauvignon Blanc wines are being made in many wine regions around the world. Countries and regions with particular renown include:

France, particularly the Loire Valley and Bordeaux

Chile, especially the cooler Casablanca Valley and
Leyda regions

South Africa, particularly from Stellenbosch and Elgin

California, in cooler regions, where grassy, fruity and oaked styles are produced

Italy, from northern regions such as Friuli and Alto Adige

Austria, from the Styria region

Australia, particularly Western Australia (Margaret River)

Spain, in Rueda, Sauvignon Blanc is sometimes blended with Verdejo.

Sauvignon Blanc Wines Tasted

France

2007 Chateau Laurès, AC Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux , $11 - a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Elegant and refreshing with stone fruit, floral notes, lots of minerality, and just a hint of subtle oak

2007 Chateau La Rame, AC Bordeaux, $13 – Crisp, with racy acidity. Intense aromas and flavors of ripe apricot, gooseberry and mineral notes (17/20)

2008 Chateau Lamothe de Haux, AC Bordeaux, $12 – Refreshing and packed with juicy citrus and stone fruit with herbal and mineral notes. (16/20)

2007 Chateau Bonnet, AC Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, $10 – Great value. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscatelle. Light and refreshing with bright fruit flavors. Would be great on its own as an apéritif or with lighter dishes. (15.5/20)

2007 Chateau du Champ des Treilles, Vin Passion, AC Sainte Foy Bordeaux, $13 – A refined, refreshing and well-structured wine. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscatelle displaying layers of ripe fruit, enticing floral and mineral notes. Long length and smooth finish. (17.5/20)

2007 Goisot Saint-Bris, Burgundy, $14 – The only Sauvignon Blanc appellation in Burgundy. Very mineral driven, with crisp acidity. Layers of ruby grapefruit, mandarin, blood orange interwoven with floral and herbal notes. Very much a food wine (17/20)

Chile

2008 Odfjell Vineyards Armador Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, $12 – Crisp, lemons, limes, dried herbs and grassy notes. Light bodied and easy drinking. (16/20)

2008 Montes Sauvignon Blanc, Classic Series, Casablanca Valley, $12 - Modern, zesty, and packed with bright clean flavors of mango, peach, guava mingling with herbal and citrus notes. (16.5/20)

2008 Casa Silva Sauvignon Blanc, Reserva, Colchagua Valley, $13 – Grassy, with fresh limes, lemons and grapefruit with some tropical notes. Very fruit driven (15.5/20)

2008 Casas del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca valley, $11 – Intense tropical and stone fruits lead this fruity-styled wine. Crisp acidity and smooth across the palate. (15.5/20)

2008 Cono Sur 20 Barrels Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca valley, $22 – A bit more expensive, so perhaps for a special occasion. Small volume production. Very expressive and concentrated on the nose. Juicy, refreshing and packed with ripe citrus and stone fruit. Nice minerality and mid-palate weight add complexity. (17/20)

Argentina

2008 Mapema Sauvignon Blanc, Mendoza, $15 – Made from grapes grown at 3900 feet above sea level. Weightier on the palate than many of the other wines tasted. Lush, ripe apricot, peach and floral notes. Broad texture. (15.5/20)

South Africa

2008 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch $13 - Clean, racy, grassy style, yet elegant. Persistent aromas and flavors of citrus, just ripe gooseberry, tarragon, mâche and pea shoots. (17/20)

2008 M’Hudi Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape $15 - M'hudi is derived from the Setswana word, "mohudi" meaning "harvester". Crisp, cool and refreshing with flavors of fresh hay, bell pepper and just-ripe apricot. Lovely on its own or with light dishes. (16.5/20)

2008 'Beyond' Sauvignon Blanc, Coastal Region, $15 - From renowned South African producer Buitenverwachtung, which means 'Beyond expectation', this is a lively, zesty wine. Flavors of ripe peach, guava, dried sage and a touch of bell pepper. (16.5/20)

USA

2007 Hogue Fumé Blanc, Columbia Valley, Washington State, $13 – Herbal rather than fruity with inviting notes of dried sage, laurel leaf mingling with refreshing citrus and stone fruit and some smoky / flinty notes on the finish. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. (16/20)

2008 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, $18 - Fruit forward and packed with ripe fruit. Juicy and grassy with notes of key lime, ruby grapefruit and guava. (16.5/20)

2007 Patricia Green Sauvignon Blanc, Oregon, $22 - I first tasted this wine about three years ago and fell in love with it. Refined and elegant, mineral driven with flavors of citrus, asparagus, gooseberry, pea-shoot and grassy notes. (17.5/20)

Italy

2006 Borgo Conventi Sauvignon Blanc, Collio, $15 – Medium bodied, crisp acidity and elegant. Inviting aromas and flavors of white peach, nectarine, grapefruit, fresh mâche and a hint of yellow bell pepper. Lovely minerally overtones and long length. (17/20)

2007 St. Michael Eppan Sanct Valentin Sauvignon, Alto Adige $33 – A bit on the expensive side, but a real treat. Rich and ripe, yet crisp and focused. Refined, elegant wine with floral aromas of elder and apple blossoms; ripe stone fruit and lots of minerality and flinty note on the finish. (17.5/20)

Australia

2008 Cape Mentelle Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River $14 – Always delicious. Refreshing with bright, clean flavors of honeyed limes and lemons, nectarines, gooseberry and herbal
notes. (17/20)

Sauvignon Blanc wines are very widely available in wine stores and supermarkets around the country. Explore the diversity and great value.

Until next week.

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Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. In 2012 she was honored as a Dame Chevalier de L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.

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