Though Chardonnay continues to be the most popular white wine in the country, warming springtime temperatures beg for something a little lighter, potentially a little grassier, a little more citrus or mineral filled, making it an ideal wine to sip right now. Here are a few that were sent to me recently for editorial consideration, as well as a few that I will sip any time of year. Right now, they are perfect.
The Calistoga appellation sits at the very top of Napa Valley, making it the hottest part of the region and ideal for growing both big Cabernet Sauvignon (this is the home of Chateau Montelena) as well as stellar Sauvignon Blanc. Dallisites Dr. Clay and Brenda Cockerell bought their Coquerel Family Wine estate vineyard in Calistoga with the goal to make Bordeaux style Sauvignon Blanc, reminiscent of the steely, fresh, citrus and mineral filled whites they have had while traveling in France. With the help of winemaker Christine Barb they have successfully created two very different Sauvignon Blanc wines from their stellar estate fruit, their Le Petit Coquerel Sauvignon Blanc ($20) is a completely stainless steel fermented and aged wine that is fresh and bright with great acidity and balance. Their Terroir Coquerel Sauvignon Blanc ($32,) my favorite, is fermented in 50% new oak barrels and then aged on the lees (the yeasts) for an additional six months adding depth and texture, without overpowering the wine. Subtle notes of honeysuckle and spice enhance this vibrant citrus and lychee fruit filled wine. Both wines are available locally at Sigel’s stores.
2012 Ladera Sauvignon Blanc from Howell Mountain fruit exceeds expectations for this beautiful wine. Made from three clones of Sauvignon Blanc, including Sauvignon Musque (a clone that I keep hearing about within the region as it does very well in the Northern California climate.) Filled with layers of honeydew, passion fruit, lemon peel and a touch of minerality this patio friendly wine will transfer easily to any spring time pairing you could make, like a spring pea and goat cheese tarts. $30 available locally at Pogo’s.
I was recently given a bottle of Château La Louvière Blanc as a hostess gift for a dinner party, opting to open it that night with an appetizer of grilled salmon served with a creamy dill and citrus sauce. This white Bordeaux from the Pessac-Léognan appellation of France blends a touch of Semillon into their nicely well rounded and complex Sauvignon Blanc adding richness and texture to the elegant wine filled with white flowers, fresh herbs, lemon zest and a touch of toasted vanilla from 12 months of oak aging on the lees, balancing nicely with the grilled fish. Elegant and luscious, a special bottle for any occasion. $30 available at Total Wine and More.
Rutherford is best known for their earthy, dusty Cabernet Sauvignon, but wineries in the area also excel at growing mineral rich Sauvignon Blanc in their volcanic soils. 2012 Round Pond Sauvignon Blanc, from the sustainably farmed Rutherford estate fruit, was hand picked on three different occasions to ensure proper ripeness of the fruit, bringing different levels of expression to the crisp, lively and mineral rich wine filled with stone fruit, zesty citrus and sweet melon notes with clean, freshness kept pure from the stainless steel fermentation of the wine. $24 available at Pogo’s.
Amy Aiken has made a name for herself making elegant, interesting and balanced Cabernet Sauvignon with her Meander wine, but she also has a stellar Sauvignon Blanc in her portfolio that is ideal served chilled relaxing on a patio on a warm afternoon – Conspire. Playful and fun describes both Amy and her husband, famed Napa winemaker Joel Aiken, with this wine displaying that in both the packaging and the delicious juice inside the bottle. For Amy, capturing a unique time and place in a bottle of wine drives her in the work she does, creating complex, interesting wines that make you think while you enjoy them. Her Conspire Sauvignon Blanc, also from fruit grown in Rutherford, is filled with layers of citrus filled sunshine, enhanced by the texture and viscosity of aging the wine for a short period of time on the lees adding creamy texture with a hint of green fig and herbal notes. $28 available via her website.
For pairing with spring salads or grilled shellfish think Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc – approachable and very easy drinking, this Sauvignon Blanc from fruit grown throughout Napa Valley is filled with honeydew melon, tart green apple, tropical guava and a touch of ripe pear this white is perfect for the summer on its own or paired with your favorite light grilled dishes. $18, available at Goody-Goody stores.
Just a short drive from California’s most famous wine country is Livermore, about 45 minutes outside of San Francisco, where wine making dates back to the 1880’s. It is thought that the original plantings of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc vines came from France’s prestigious Château d’Yquem whose pedigree enough would warrant delicious wine production, but the soils of Livermore also mimic those of Bordeaux, making the area prime for growing what winemaker Steven Mirrasou, owner of Livermore’s Steven Kent Winery, believes to be Premier Cru Classe Cabernet Sauvignon, and some stellar Bordeaux style whites, like his Lola Sauvignon Blanc. In typical years Lola also includes a bit of Semillon in the blend, but the 2013 season didn’t produce the variety to the quality standards Mirassou requires, so this release is 100% Sauv Blanc, stainless steel fermented with just a touch (10%) aged for 4 months in new Acacia wood, adding both depth and spice notes to the fragrant, slightly floral and citrus fruit filled wine. $24 available via their website.
One of the staples of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is Kim Crawford, producing a citrus and gooseberry filled wine from Marlborough grown fruit. Last year Kim and Erica Crawford introduced a new wine, Loveblock, made with his wife using organic methods highlighting the purity of the fruit and natural state of what the land can give them. Their vineyard, formerly used for sheep grazing, sits above the Marlborough valley producing soft, balanced and approachable wines that have the inherent characteristics of New Zealand Sauv Blanc without being as intense. Kim Crawford retails for around $15, widely available throughout Dallas; Loveblock is about $20 and can be found locally at Pogo’s.
Chilean Sauvignon Blanc brings in both the steely, mineral characteristics of great white Bordeaux with the juicy, citrus filled, racy characteristics of vibrant New Zealand versions of the wine. Amayna Sauvignon Blanc from the Leyda Valley of Chile, better known for some of their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, benefit from a maritime climate with very hot days and cool evenings ensuring great vibrancy and acidity in this slightly grassy, herbal and citrus filled wine with layers of honeysuckle enhanced with sweet tarragon notes. $19 available at Spec’s.
And, a little off topic, but it is that time of year when palates long for chilled wines and people start sipping Rose…though I say Rose is great all year. But, if you are looking to stock up on your summer Rose and France is your go to for your favorite dry, pink wines Sigel’s Fine Wine and Spirits is having a tasting and sale of French Rose wines Thursday, May 8 at their Greenville store from 5pm-7pm – RSVP 214-739-4012. If you can’t make it a selection of Rose wines will be on sale through the entire month of May.