Sauvignon Blanc | Vincabulary

VINcab Sauv Blanc


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“Cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush.”

That was my initial introduction to Sauvignon Blanc. For a budding wine enthusiast this was at once terrifying (you want me to drink what?) and relieving (finally wine descriptors that make sense!), and even as a gnarly vine wine enthusiast that description has stuck with me. Of course, Sauvignon Blanc is so much more than that memorable phrase. This green-skinned grape most likely hails from France’s Loire Valley, where it can blindingly shine in the Kimmeridgian limestone and Silex flint. As the third most planted white variety in France, Sauvignon Blanc (from the French for sauvage, meaning wild), is also comfortably at home in Bordeaux, blending in harmony with Semillon; and also throughout Languedoc-Roussillon, contributing greatly to simple and tart Pays d’Oc. The highly vigorous grape is widely adaptable, spreading as easily worldwide as its tangled and aggressive foliage. All things green are its hallmark: grass, hedge, meadow, asparagus, kiwi, green peppers, gooseberries, as well as passionfruit and elderflower in slightly warmer climates. Crisp, piercing acidity permeates all wines, save for those harvested in the hottest regions, and helps preserve freshness and zest in late harvest or oaked examples. The grape rocketed to fame over the past 20 years in New Zealand, finding a prime home for a concentrated, pungent, fresh and unoaked style.



Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$19-25  12%

If Sauvignon Blanc’s aggressive bite has made you shy away, try again with this lovely balanced style from one of BC’s top producers. Partial fermentation in old French oak has tempered the grape’s piercing acidity, and gentle lees treatment has rounded the mouthfeel. Focused and sunny without sharpness, with light meadow, green apple and citrus freshness.



Domaine Laporte
Les Duchesses 2010
Pouilly-Fumé, Loire, France
$30-35  12.5%

At first sniff through to last drop – flint, stone and lime pith. This dry, bracing white from the Loire has mouthwatering white grapefruit and tight, white flowers in spades, along with chalky minerality, cool cantaloupe and cooler earth. Assertive and awesomely unapologetic, this is a wine that mirrors its place.



Cono Sur
Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2012
San Antonio Valley, Aconcagua, Chile
*$15-18  13%

Green from production (organic) to fruits (gooseberry, lime), this coastal valley Chilean white is pleasantly padded with ripe pear, pink grapefruit and green apple. There is a likeable spicy lemon zest and fragrant tropical blossom to the finish. This Sauv Blanc strikes a great balance between tropical richness and marine freshness.



Francois Lurton
Les Fumées Blanches 2011
Vin de Pays d’Oc, Languedoc, France
$14-17  12%

Superb value in this mainstay screwcap bottle (a by-the-glass favourite of many local sommeliers). A puff of smoke and large pinch of savoury rock salt opens into dried apricot, green apple, wild grasses, bitter melon and a pleasing, almost-oily palate. Focused and steely acidity throughout.



Greywacke Vineyards
Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Marlborough, New Zealand
* $30-33  13.5%

This is one of those wines that lingers long after the bottle is empty. Intriguing herbal stoniness is your first aromatic introduction, and the sweetest, early-spring asparagus is the first across the palate. Savoury cured pork, honey, light petrol, citrus and apricot fuzz present in the glass, with ever-present flinty minerality. The mouthfeel is rich, but the taut acid keeps it lean. The finish is fresh and lingering – and the memory yearning for the next glass. The 2011 vintage is on shelves now.



Fumé Blanc 2011
Sonoma County, California
$25-30  13.9%

This ripe and creamy oaked white will equally suit white fish as it will white meats. Light ash, toast and red apple aromas lead to a round and full bodied palate with white honey, baked lemon, pear and gooseberry. Fresh melon on the finish, and lemony acidity keep this wine buoyant, and a herbal, anise-medicinal note on the finish keeps it edgy.


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*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores.



Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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