Beat the heat of summer and dive into crisp white wines, low in alcohol, high in flavor, and easy on the budget. There are many choices at this time of year, but nothing cuts the heat like a mouthwatering Sauvignon Blanc, a value alternative to the ever popular Chardonnay. You can often find these high quality wines at a budget price, easy to pair with summer food or alone to quench your thirst.
Sauvignon Blanc is personality plus, green-hued, intensely pure in gooseberry, lime zest, and mineral aromas and flavor, varying slightly around the world where it is grown in cooler regions. For those of us who can’t really identify with gooseberry, think of it as a combination of green flavors, once tasted, you will instantly recognize it, combining lemon, lime, tropical fruit (such as passion fruit) with a touch of grass. Sauvignon Blancs pair well with salads, seafood, Thai food, and goat cheese, a recipe for summer fun.
Some of the finest examples are found in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé in France’s Loire Valley, grassy, gooseberry, sharper wines that can have a whiff of the tuffa from which they spring, a smoky mineral quality that defines them. But these wines come with a price tag, and in recent years, have been surpassed by New Zealand’s green goddesses. Pungent, cut glass brilliant wines with a laser flavor focus, tangy and citrusy, with a touch of green bell pepper, these New Zealand wines are a steal, with top wines, such as the iconic Cloudy Bay, selling for $25, and others for half that. South Africa offers brisk, value wines, adding complexity with a splash of Semillon to add a tropical note, and smooth out the sharp edges, often at the $10 price point. California experiments with riper versions with tropical fruit flavors, Sauvignon Blanc blends, and straight versions sometimes referred to as Fumé Blanc, from $9-25 on average.
In the spirit of summer, the beachhouse Sauvignon Blanc 2012, an 80% Sauvignon Blanc/20% Semillon blend from the Western Cape of South Africa, with lemongrass and gooseberry aromas and flavors, and a touch of asparagus and whiff of apricot, is a crowd pleaser. An easy, expressive wine, it has good acidity, fresh with a smooth edge, and a long finish that compliments seafood, grilled vegetables, summer salads, roast chicken, and light pasta dishes. Ready to drink the year after it’s harvested, and with 12% ABV, at $10, it’s a great value and served chilled, a perfect party wine. Delicious and fresh, with a bit of complexity, seek this wine out, if you can’t find it in your local wine shop, it is readily available online.
Another delicious, value-priced Sauvignon Blanc comes from California’s Central Coast. The Clos LaChance Estate Sauvignon Blanc Central Coast 2011, an 87% Sauvignon Blanc/13% Semillon blend, is zesty, with lots of citrus (grapefruit, lime, lemon rind), grassy, floral aromas, and good body from the Semillon, with a touch of crystallized ginger on the palate. This wine is an excellent value, at $11, and with a little extra punch of alcohol at 13.9%, it’s easy to drink on its own, or an excellent food pairing with spicy food, such as Thai dishes or sushi.
Explore the world of Sauvignon Blanc, with it’s piercing aromas and flavors, accompanied by mouthwatering freshness, it’s summer in a glass.