You can savor and save this summer with wines made from the sauvignon blanc grape. The big question, however, is: Which sauvignon blanc? And that depends on what style of white wine you like.
The grape originated in France, where it thrives in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. Elsewhere, sauvignon blanc is available in two styles.
One is aggressive and herbaceous. The other is more citrus-flavored, crisp and inviting, the kind of white wine that's perfect for parties. It's the latter style that I prefer, and the wines mentioned here, in addition to being budget-priced, are good examples of that style.
From California vineyards, I like the 2008 Beckman Sauvignon Blanc from the Santa Ynez Valley, the 2007 Fetzer Valley Oaks Sauvignon Blanc, the 2007 Parducci Sauvignon Blanc from Mendocino County, the 2007 Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc, the 2008 Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc and the 2008 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc both from Sonoma County, and the 2008 Morgan Sauvignon Blanc from Monterey County.
Although several South American wineries also produce sauvignon blanc wines, the best come from Chile. Among them are two very affordable choices, the 2008 Veramonte Reserva Sauvignon Blanc and the 2008 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc. The former is produced in Chile's Casablanca Valley (not far from Santiago), where winemakers have discovered that sauvignon blanc plantings do very well. The latter is a blend of grapes from the nation's Central Valley. Both deliver light fruit flavors that linger.
New Zealand is well-known for its sauvignon blancs, but many from that country are produced in a grassy, brassy style. Although they appeal to some consumers, they are not as universally appealing as the more subtle, softer sauvignon blancs produced in Kiwi Land.
Of those made in the latter style, I like the 2008 Starborough Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. It's a delicious white that shows hints of citrus and peaches and ends in a clean finish.
Serve with: Enjoy these accessible whites as aperitif wines or pair them with fish, shellfish, chicken or pork roast. They are not suitable, however, for dishes that contain a lot of butter or cream.
Availability/suggested retail: Sold in wine and food stores, these whites range in price from $10 to $16, but most retail in the lower end of that price range.
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