Monday, January 16, 2006

Drawing a Blanc

If there's one varietal I've come around on 180 degrees it's sauvignon blanc. When I first started getting excited about wines roughly 15 years ago, my taste for whites then ran toward the big flavors of California chardonnay. I was convinced sauvignon blancs had little to offer. I WAS WRONG.

Perhaps my tastes have grown up. Perhaps there are more amazing sauvingon blancs available these days. Perhaps both. But I continue to be impressed by the range of flavors winemakers manage to wring out of this grape. Consequently, I was not surprised when Wall Street Journal wine writers John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, in their recent looking-back-at-'05 column, recommended sauvignon blanc as one of the solid areas into which consumers could plunge without trepidation because there are so many consistently good examples out there right now. Incidently, Brecher and Gaiter have the best wine column out there for non-experts, but WSJ sadly does not make it available online.

It also was no surprise to me when a group of friends and I recently had a winetasting and were bowled over by the sauvignon blancs. We tasted three, each done in a very different style. While it was definitely a case of different strokes for different folks, we all agreed there were no weak, wimpy wines in the bunch.

2003 Henri Bourgeois les Bonnes Bouches Sancerre
This Bourgeois is classic Sancerre, showing off straw and mineral notes with a crisp, slightly lemony finish. This Loire Valley white was the preferred style of at least two of our tasters, and we agreed it's a terrific match for any white fish or shellfish.

2004 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc
This wine is a good example of many, though not all, California sauvignon blancs. With six months of barrel aging, the wine's melon flavors worked in tandem with nutty, spicy oak notes on the palate. It was no one's absolute favorite, but it was by no means dissed. A richer style of sauvignon blanc, this white would go well with chicken or fish accompanied by a full-flavored sauce.

2004 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
Everyone was knocked out by the huge citrus flavors of this great white from New Zealand. While not everyone's favorite style, there was no arguing that this wine is packed with bright lime, grapefruit and mango flavors. I adore the bold flavors of the New Zealand style and its vibrant acidity, and Kim Crawford is as rich as any for a moderate price ($20). I'd consider serving this wine with lemon chicken, chicken and pasta, or almost any fish dish. Or, it would make a hell of a resfreshing summer quaff.

7 Comments:

Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

Another nice thing about this wine, it typically costs less then other varietals.

11:46 AM  
Blogger zinlover said...

I am in the wine industry. How can I emal you

1:34 PM  
Blogger zinlover said...

do you have an email address

1:45 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Sure. You can e-mail me here.

7:53 PM  
Blogger JD said...

I don't know why that's not working. It's johndube@comcast.net

7:58 PM  
Blogger Bradley Cooper, Winemaker said...

Cool climate SBs are the way to go, like Mr. Crawford's. And keep the influence of the barrel to a mimimum. It should be nuance or dimensional thing; not an obvious component. I make a a couple spiffy ones out here on the other side of the continent. Maybe you'll get a chance to try them someday. When our two countries have real free trade and pigs fly.
Check mon bloge when you have a chance. Exchange linkage?

3:33 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Sounds good to me. I'll add you in the next day or two. I agree with you, by the way, on the stylistic stength of unoaked SB. But Sancerre srikes me as the "cooler" style. My wife and I were in Vancouver in '03 -- wish we had made the connection then, would have been fun to meet and I don't know when we'll be back again. We had just finished tasting our way across the Yakima and Walla Walla valleys before getting to Vancouver.

7:57 PM  

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