100 degree days are ideal for sipping a refreshing, super crisp and light Sauvignon Blanc, whether it is on its own sitting by the pool or on a patio or with light summer salads, grilled chicken, light pasta or creamy cheese, and many wineries are just now releasing their latest vintages and are easy to find at your favorite wine stores or online. Here are a few favorites, some selections were sent for editorial consideration.
It is impossible for a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc lover to talk about the variety without paying respect to the father of the variety for the area, Robert Mondavi and his Robert Mondavi Oakville Fume Blanc. Mr. Mondavi would have celebrated his 100th birthday this past June, however with his passing several years ago he left a legacy both in his name and his dedication to the valley, particularly his love for his Oakville winery. Mr. Mondavi had a love of the land and the terroir of Oakville, believing it was the “jewel of Napa Valley,” notes his widow Margrit Mondavi, going on to say “he knew great wines were made in the vineyard and he believed the To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville provided the ability to create the wonderful, elegant wines he had always envisioned.” Sauvignon Blanc from Napa isn’t like any other, and the Robert Mondavi Oakville Fume Blanc from hand harvested grapes on their To Kalon estate are the best of the best, whole cluster pressed and 90% barrel fermented to create a rich wine with texture that maintains freshness, bright acidity and crispness while bringing in layers of spice, quince and sweet melon.
Cliff Lede in the heart of Stag’s Leap, Napa Valley creates a White Bordeaux style wine by blending in both Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for a lush, slightly creamy from lees aging, fresh wine without too much citrus or gooseberry, bringing layers of lemongrass, white flower and just the right blend of fresh herbal notes to keep this mineral rich wine interesting. Lively, inviting and delicious.
Steven Kent Winery elevates the traditional Bordeaux style white blend with their Lola Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend of 65% Sauv Blanc/35% Semillon from their Livermore Valley vineyards. I love this wine. Stainless steel fermented and aged 7 months prior to bottling, with a small portion of the Sauvignon Blanc (about 10%) aged for 4 months in new oak, giving depth, spice and creaminess to the lemon zest, orange blossom and fresh lime flavors with a touch of minerality and a lush, lingering finish.
Winemaker Rodrigo Soto has been a busy man the past few years, both working the Benziger Family as winemaker in Sonoma, and last year moving home to his native Chile to make wine for Ritual. Both are excellent go to wines which highlight how regional differences can transform flavors of wines. I am a fan of his, and both of these wineries.
The Benziger Estate in Sonoma County has come a long way in the past few years to elevate their wine and winery to create varietally correct wine from their certified sustainable, organic and biodynamic vineyards. Their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc comes from certified sustainable vineyards in the North Coast AVA, ideal for growing mineral rich, steely and citrus fruit filled wines with personality. Left to age for just a bit on the lees, creating complexity and depth, the wine is ideal for serving throughout the summer with grilled fish and vegetables.
From the Casablanca Valley in Chile, benefiting from cool nights and mornings with mountain breezes and hot days, Ritual Sauvignon Blanc shows how Chile is ideal for growing quality Sauvignon Blanc. Ritual uses the best fruit from the expansive Veramonte estate, and aged 5 months in French oak to create a complex, refined and elegant wine with depth and character, much like their new winemaker Soto. Creamy, fresh and luscious with spiced tropical and stone fruit flavors married with lemon curd and lime zest.
Sbragia Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc elevates the typical flavors of the variety with their warm days/cool nights estate vineyard fruit grown by legendary winemaker Ed Sbragia and his son Adam. Filled with juicy, fresh lemon and lemongrass, crisp green apple, a hint of spice, wet stoney and fresh minerality.
Dallas’ Oak Cliff Cellars sources their Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County, CA, north of Napa containing Clear Lake. A cool climate with out as much temperature variation from day to night, working well for varieties like Sauvignon Blanc helping develop the Bordeaux style flavor profile. Light lemon and lime, mineral and fresh herb notes with a lingering finish.
Flora Springs Soliloquy Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, from the heart of Oakville, grown by Napa Valley Grapegrowers 2012 Grower of the Year, Pat Garvey, elevates the variety by creating a wine filled with fresh orange blossom and tea rose petals with fresh fig, honeydew and tangerine, a true representation of the two clones used in the wine, the Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc Clone and the Sauvignon Musque clone which are then aged in a combination of both concrete and stainless steel tanks with a few oak barrels, adding a touch of spice, creaminess and minerality.
Classic Bordeaux Blanc blends Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon, adding texture, depth and richness to the grassy, mineral rich blend. Chateau Ducasse is one of the best I have had, with a slightly higher proportion of Semillon to Sauv Blanc (60% Semillon/35% Sauv Blanc) with a touch of Muscadelle, creating an aromatic, rich and balanced wine grown in clay filled soils, enhancing the minerality and herbal qualities of this impressive wine, a part of Kermit Lynch’s impressive portfolio.
For an approachable, every day style Sauvignon Blanc that captures both cool climate and warmer temperature styles turn to Edna Valley, which blends fruit from both the cooler Santa Lucia Highlands AVA and San Lucas AVA with fruit from warm Paso Robles to bring both fresh grassy, herbal notes and rich tropical fruit for a balanced, easy drinking wine perfect for sipping over afternoons on the patio.
Kim Crawford, one of New Zealand’s favorite wineries known for their ripe lemon, grapefruit and tangerine filled Sauvignon Blanc, loves creating adventurous ways to sip their wines by pairing flavorful dishes while adding whimsy to its enjoyment, and they just added a new layer of flavor with a partnership with Populence popcorn company. It is a well known fact that popcorn and white wine are an ideal pairing, particularly buttery popcorn and Chardonnay. However, if you aren’t a fan of all that butter…Sauvignon Blanc with a bowl of the freshly popped treat are a perfect match, made even better with Populence by infusing Kim Crawford Sauvingnon Blanc into the actual popcorn for a light, lemony, slightly sweet snack. The company also created an easy recipe to do it at home by yourself if you prefer here, but the packaged version, available for purchase here, is incredible.