Monday, April 28, 2008

The Many Faces of Sauvignon Blanc

Once upon a time, four men decided to band together to explore the potential that their favorite grape variety had to display terroir. Often invoked, but still not fully understood, terroir is the ability that a grape has to display the characteristics of the place where it is grown. No two places are exactly the same, and fans of terroir are drawn to the idiosyncratic differences that soil, climate, and other environmental factors can promote in a particular wine.

John Buechsenstein, John Ash, Paul Dolan, and Tom Meyer are Sauvignon Blanc fanatics, and they've devoted their company--Sauvignon Republic Cellars--to exploring how this grape performs in California, Chile, France, New Zealand, and South Africa. All four men are not only passionate about wine. They are also devoted foodies, and are intrigued by Sauvignon Blanc's food friendly ways, too. They think the grape fits the cuisine we eat now, and the flavors of the wine enhance the wide range of spices and ingredients on modern tables. I couldn't agree more--and of course it's a budget-friendly wine option, as well.

I decided to pick up their South African example, because I'm less familiar with wines from this region and because I was genuinely curious (fresh on the heels of my experience with a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a California Sauvignon Blanc) to see how different the flavors could be. The 2006 Sauvignon Republic Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch is a jazzy example of what the grape can achieve in terms of distinctive flavors in South Africa. (34 North Wine Merchants, $20; widely available online for between $12 and $20) It was pale in color, though not as clear and almost translucent as most of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs I've had recently. Lime and lime zest dominate the aromas and the flavors, giving it an almost Margarita-like intensity. The aftertaste that the wine left in your mouth had a decided strip of jalapeno pepper in it along with all the fresh citrus notes, which was both unexpected and very distinctive. This wine screamed out for chicken fajitas, ceviche, fish tacos, or any other fresh Mexican or Baja fare.

I was pleased at how this wine lived up to its promise to deliver an unusual mouthful of Sauvignon Blanc's flavors--especially when compared to the grass, grapefruit, nectarine, and melon notes that I wrote about a few weeks ago--and thought that it was a very good QPR bottling. But if you can get it for $15 or less it would be an excellent QPR find and you should buy it straight away to enjoy with all the vegetables, fish, and poultry that will be on your flavors this spring and into the summer.

1 comment:

andrew said...

Hi - love your blog. Just started reading a couple weeks ago. I've always been a casual wine drinker, trying to pick something appropriate for the meal, but not giving it a ton of thought. Trying to change that and be a little more conscious and knowledgable. I love the book recommendation (What to Drink With What You Eat) and have been trying to absorb it.

This post grabbed me, because it's such a neat idea (offering different varieties of the same grape), and it's one of my favorites as well. Your comment about S.B. going well with so many dishes - it makes me think that's likely part of the reason that it's one of my favorites...it just worked by default most of the time!

Anyway, great blog, love reading it...Thanks.