April 04, 2003

That's Pathetic!

As winter slowly gives way to spring, my thoughts begin to run to Sauvignon Blanc for drinking. It's a light, crisp, white wine (at least when it's the style I like best) and plays well with shellfish. Here's a rundown of the various regions and which ones I tend to have on hand.

The original is Sancerre from France. The style traditionally was tight and crisp and minerally. It also often had a "vegital" or "herbaceous" quality. The word most often used to describe it was "grassy". When taken to extremes, some said it smelled like "cat piss". The non-extreme variety is what I prefer. Unfortunately, a large number of French folk figured out that Americans prefer a most fruit-oriented taste and adjusted to produce it. One Sancerre that I regularly still buy that's fairly "old-school" is "Les Charmes" by Andre Vatane (sp?).

Californians are largely responsible for producting huge quantities of inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc of most often a citrus or other fruit flavored style. When well balanced with acid, I can drink this, but it's not my favorite. More grassy styles are often labelled "Fume Blanc" which is the same grape with a different marketting name. I enjoy the wines from Dry Creek and Murphy-Goode. The later's Fume Blanc is an especially good value. In general, I steer towards Sauvignon Blanc's from the Sonoma Valley in California. Unfortunately, the prices of all wines from this region have been inching up over the years.

New Zealand has recently been taking the Sauvignon Blanc world by storm, most notably with wines from the Marlbourgh region. Just about any Sauvignon Blanc from this region is excellent. Cloudy Bay is the landmark wine from the region and is responsible for "breaking" it in the minds of many wine writers. It's fame is starting to cause the price to creep up, however. Goldwater is another great one I'm a fan of, along with Villa Maria. Both of these are really value-priced. One interesting thing to note is that many of the New Zealand folks have started using screw-top openings for their Sauvignon Blanc. It's a low-risk approach, actually, as this wine isn't usually kept around for very long -- so while nobody really knows if screw tops are a smart idea for aging wine, it's safe here. And approximately 2% of all wine ends up being "corked" because of bad or contaminated cork closures.

South Africa also makes some very nice wines. I've become a fan of Maulderbach's (sp?) Sauvignon Blanc. It has a very distinctive label (a long vertical stripe the entire height of the bottle) and thus is easy to spot even though I can't properly spell the name. I think it's priced just a tad higher than I would ideally like -- but it's not so expensive that you shouldn't give it a try if you can find it.

So, the end of all of this explaination is that recently I've been so tired from work that when selecting between all of these excellent white wines to drink, the ones with the screwtop have been chosen more often than not because...well, they're easier to open.

As my father once said to a student in class -- "That's Pathetic!"

Posted by dowdy at April 4, 2003 08:42 AM