Like so many wine grapes, Sauvignon Blanc originated in France.
In Bordeaux it is blended with Semillon routinely to make Bordeaux Blanc. Shröder & Schÿler’s Chartron La Fleur Bordeaux Blanc (626341) $13 is 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc. This is a light and delicately styled wine with a sprinkle of green and vegetal grassiness over restrained lemon and grapefruit aromas and flavours.
Unblended, in the Loire Valley it still produces racy Pouilly-Fumés and Sancerres – starting around $30. Both of these bright and bracingly zingy whites wines have become difficult to find as more affordable Sauvignon Blancs became available from New World wineries.
Three styles of Sauvignon Blanc are common. Tart – driven by citrus fruit flavours – grapefruit, lemon, melon and gooseberry – and refreshingly high acidity. Herbal/vegetal grassiness – think of the aromas of a fresh mowed lawn? And California’s Fumé Blanc – aged in oak for a richer style with hints of smoke, vanilla and coconut.
A light bodied wine with zesty flavours of green apple, peach and grapefruit Copper Moon Sauvignon Blanc (508135) $8.75 is “Cellared in Canada from international and domestic wines.” An entry-level example, it is made in a crowd-pleasingly off-dry style, more peach than classic gooseberry.
Reputed to be one parent – with Cabernet Franc – of the far more famous Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc has travelled as far as it’s child and been as well received in most New World regions. North and South America both make fine Sauvignon Blancs.
From Chile’s Casablanca Valley Casa Viva Sauvignon Blanc (645093) $13.40 shows lime and honeyed peach on the nose with a twitch of fresh cut green pepper. In the mouth, this ‘second label’ from Casas del Bosque offers up a matching set of flavours with fresh peaches dominating and pink grapefruit leaving a sprinkling of wet gravel minerality in the finish.
Here in British Columbia, our winemakers tend to make fruitier more aperitif-styled white wines from Sauvignon Blanc – less zip and zingy acidity, with a medley of light and well-balanced fruit flavours. They can be fabulous summer sippers out on the deck or patio.
Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Council’s Punch Bowl Sauvignon Blanc (40305) $14.45 was grown in the Oliver & Osoyoos areas of the south Okanagan Valley. Peaches and candied lemon-rind slide into melon and mango before finishing with a twist of lime. None of that wild grassy, gooseberry stuff in this civilized white wine!
The asparagus, gooseberry and grassy green pepper flavours commonly associated with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are attributed to flavour compounds known as methoxypyrazines that become more pronounced and concentrated in wines from cooler climate regions.
From New Zealand’s famed Marlborough region Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc $16 offers up a bouquet of ripe gooseberries supported by understated herbal aromas and tropical fruit. Rich and almost sweet on first sip, it moves through nectarine and kiwi fruit flavours before finishing bright and crisp with subtle notes of peas and asparagus. Amazingly affordable Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
With vineyards off Black Sage Road east of Oliver, BC Burrowing Owl Estate Winery seems to look to California for style and inspiration. Burrowing Owl Sauvignon Blanc (693572)$29.65 this is 88 per cent Sauvignon Blanc, 12 per cent Sémillon some of which was aged in oak. Subtle flavours of fresh cut grass, lemon and passionfruit intermingle on the nose with vanilla, leafy and candied fruit undertones. Green apple, honeyed peach, melon and mango slide into subtly herbal notes of sage.
The same classic blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon that makes France’s dry white Bordeaux also makes dessert wines in Barsac and Sauternes. If you can find a half-bottle of Château de Rayne Vigneau (973495) $30 expect a luscious sweet sipper overflowing with honeyed pineapple, lemon rind, coconut and vanilla.
Much more affordable – from Chile, rather than France – Errazuriz Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc (427054) $14.70/375ml blends 89 per cent Sauvignon Blanc, six per cent Gewürztraminer and five per cent Viognier into a tantalizingly tasty dessert wine. Oodles of ripe apricot and raisin flavours flow into honeyed citrus, candied pineapple and a medley of tropical fruits.
Sponsored by MetroLiquor your WineWise guy will be guiding a Sauvignon Blanc and Seafood tapas event on July 11 at 6:30 p.m. at The Riptide Pub & Grill. Tickets are $40. Sign up at MetroLiquor’s Discovery Harbour store or email firstname.lastname@example.org