We love Sauvignon Blanc with seafood all year round; but in the summer months, we absolutely adore the crisp, refreshing flavors even more. Sauvignon Blanc pairs perfectly with hot sun on the deck or warm summer nights. This wine drinks well alone, but it also pairs nicely with prawns, scallops and oysters, in addition to other seafood dishes, sushi, some cheeses, and grilled veggies such as asparagus.
While the most popular style is “light and crisp,” other styles include “fruity and smooth,” “rich and creamy” and “elegant.” And some winemakers combine more than one style. The flavors can range from grassy to tropical.
Sauvignon Blanc is both an old-world and new-world wine, grown and produced in Washington state, California, British Columbia, France, New Zealand and other wine regions. What many people don’t realize is that Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. During the 18th century in Bordeaux, the Sauvignon Blanc vine paired with Cabernet Franc to parent the Cabernet Sauvignon vine.
Here are some excellent Sauvignon Blancs that we recently tasted, ranging in price from $18-$25 MRP. Let’s start out with some Washington State wines, before turning to New Zealand.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (WA-$18)
We recently tasted this spicy, earthy and approachable Sauvignon Blanc, and really enjoyed it. Winemaker Bob Bertheau used 73% stainless steel fermenting to preserve the vibrant fruit character, and 27% barrel fermenting in older French oak for a slight spice, and texture. The citrus characteristics make this Sauv Blanc a standout.
EFESTE Feral 2016 (WA-$20)
We first tasted the 2008 Feral, and immediately fell in love. The 2016 vintage continues the tradition and the quality, even though the winemakers have changed. Pale straw in color, the 2016 offers aromatics of white peaches and grapefruit, followed by flavors of peach, grapefruit and flint, brought on by clean minerality. Love this wine!
JM Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (WA-$25)
The summer of 2009 was when we first were wowed by JM Cellars 2008 Sauv Blanc, and this vintage further cements our impression. This wine shows tropical notes, such as pineapple, mango and a little bit of lemon; 5% Semillon is blended with 95% Sauvignon Blanc. Winemaker John Bigelow fermented this wine in stainless steel for roughly 40 days — “We wanted a dry, surefire, warm-weather-drinker with no residual sugar.”
Locations Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc NZ6 (NZ-$20)
We have tried several of Dave Phinney’s Locations wines, and this Sauvignon Blanc is our favorite. We adored it for its grassy, citrusy, clean minerality, with notes of passionfruit in both the aromatics and flavors – our kind of Sauv Blanc. Elegant, complex and balanced, all we can say is bring on summer! We’re headed lakeside for this one. Thanks to Locations for the sample.
Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (NZ-$20)
This beauty from Martinborough, New Zealand is clean, fresh and delicious. Citrus, nectarine and tropical melon flavors burst on the palate, with minerality and a smooth lush finish. We have enjoyed previous vintages (and visited the winery when we were in New Zealand a few years ago), and this one maintains that quality. Although this Sauv Blanc is sold out from the winery, we’ve found it at a great price at Costco.
The Sisters Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (NZ-$22)
This is a very tasty Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc — fresh, dry and crisp, featuring flavors of tropical fruits combined with citrus notes. Its solid fruit flavors — pineapples, mangos, grapefruit and lemon grass — make it a bit more fruity than some of the others. But this Sauv Blanc represents easy drinking on the deck with sisters and friends. We know exactly who will love this wine – we’re making the call now. Thanks to The Sisters for the sample.
Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (NZ-$23)
Named for the rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the New Zealand vineyard, this is another classic Marlborough Sauv Blanc. It’s perfect for warm days, which is why we are opening another bottle tonight. This wine has a generous mouthfeel while finishing dry and crisp. Aromas of nectarine, grapefruit, lemon and jasmine lead into melon and citrus flavors, and a minerality highlighted by a flinty finish. You can frequently find it at a lower price at Costco.
As mentioned, we love to sip on chilled, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc on warm sunny evenings on the deck or the patio, lakeside or poolside. It’s also great to pair with beautiful sunsets!
Margot and Dave