By Barbara Hay ~
Imbued with fruit and herbs, it’s no wonder that many choose a crisp and zesty Sauvignon Blanc to beat the last of the summer heat.
Sauvignon Blanc is the quintessential summer wine, fruity, crisp, zesty and delightfully refreshing. With its notably acidic edge and the memorably piercing aroma of one or more of these: grapefruit rind, lime zest, fresh-cut green bell or jalapeno pepper, passion fruit, green apple, and the herbal notes of verbena or bay laurel, Sauvignon blanc stands out in a crowd. Even the least initiated of wine tasters could not mistake a sauvignon blanc out of the bottle.
The classic rendition arrives from cool climates such as the Loire Valley in France, coastal South Africa or either island of New Zealand. In California, where it is sometimes called Fumé Blanc, you will find it to be a bit riper with a somewhat diminished acidity and aromas and flavors of white peach, ripe melon, apricot, and notes of tangerine or thyme.
Most producers ferment and age their Sauvignon Blanc in stainless steel to accentuate the wine’s crisp, zesty, bracing qualities, though a few barrel-ferment or wood-age the wine. When the latter, as in Graves in Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc is often further tamed by the blending in of Semillon as a buffering wine.
Sauvignon Blanc, with its acidity and freshness, is an obvious choice for seafood, from simple to elaborate preparations. It matches well with rich, even creamy and fatty, dishes because of its cleansing, bracing acidity. But, perhaps the most perfect Sauvignon Blanc pairing is a Loire Valley Sancerre with fresh or aged goat cheese. The high acidity in both the cheese and the wine stand as foils and make for pure deliciousness.
Here are a few zesty favorites to try for summer days:
Bogle, California: This wine is a good value; lemongrass-edged soft texture and smooth feel on the tongue.
Girard Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley: Very clean, fresh and crisp with bright citrus, guava, papaya and a slightly flinty/wet slate characteristic to complement the refreshing acidity—there’s no wonder why this always makes my summer list.
Matanzas Creek Sonoma County: Classic Californian; vibrant with citrus and verbena notes; super tangy finish.
From South Africa:
Boschendal Sauvignon Blanc 1685, Western Cape: Zippy blend of 92% Sauvignon Blanc with 8% Semillon full of tropical fruit and citrus aromas, followed by balanced citrus and asparagus flavors dancing on a racy acidity.
Mulderbosch Western Cape: An old favorite and a great price; big on the citrus and green fig, blessed with minerals and a juicy texture.
From New Zealand:
Nobilo “Icon” Marlborough: This richly textured version combines super fresh and crisp full-on citrus aromas and flavors with the scent of a pinched tomato leaf.
Boulder Bank, Marlborough: A sustainably armed bright, fruit-driven style with lemon grass aromas and citrus flavors. Finishes with a hint of peach.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre le Chateau du Nozay, Loire Valley: Fresh, clean and lean expression screaming with racy acidity. A youthful mouth-watering wine, with lots of flint framing the lime, tempered by very subtle residual sugar; very clean; alive, racy, youthful.
Chateau Haut-Peyrous Graves Blanc, Bordeaux: A big, fruity bold wine, packed with the ripest fruit, concentrated and complex, with tight acidity, and crisp citrus.