Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meet Sauvignon Blanc - The Rebel

When I think about Sauvignon Blanc, I remember that guy who went against every imaginable grain. He didn’t play sports or join clubs because it was too normal – he was an individual. If everyone was wearing red that year, he wore blue or black. Instead of a letter jacket, he rocked a
tough leather and perhaps some chains. When all his friends were listening to pop and hip hop, he preferred grunge and painted his fingernails black. A true rebel. Not the boy next door.

When I put my nose into a great glass of Sauvignon Blanc, my reaction is usually “What the funk???” Because it gives you what you wouldn’t expect from a wine – freshly cut grass, green bell pepper, scallions, etc on the nose, and if it isn’t a lower end Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or something similarly new world, you will be shocked and appalled by the austerity on the palate! And that’s the way he wants you to react when he enters a room. Just like he wasn’t interested in team sports or clubs in school, he’s not for corporate – he owns his own Harley Davidson shop so he can dress however the funk he wants and talk bikes all day. Sancerre, located at the inland end of the Loire Valley in France, is the official homeland of Sauvignon Blanc. It is also grown in Bordeaux, and when blended with Semillon and sometimes Muscadelle (not related to Muscat, Muscadet or Muscadine) it is Graves (pronounced Grahv) the official white wine of the region. Sancerre set the standard for grassy Sauvignon Blanc, that beloved “cat’s pee” swag that true Sauvignon fans look for in their glass. From these wines you can experience citrus flavors, particularly lemon or lemon zest and grapefruit, and they’re invariably bone dry.

On a different vein, Sauvignon Blanc proliferates in the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island, brand new world. More audacity – of all the random places to take root! Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc can be grassy with that cat’s pee vibe as well, but on the palate they take on a distinct passion fruit flavor, with less austerity than their French contemporaries. They’re much more user friendly, in their own rebellious way.

In general, because of characteristically high acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is a great food wine. I like it with fried foods, anything salty or creamy like baked macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, fried clams, fried fish, French fries, eggs benedict – yes, why not have a glass of wine with breakfast, it’s a wonderful way to start a day! Also I love Sauvignon Blanc with dried sausage or cured meats, and semi-soft cheeses (avoid blues, the acidity in those cheeses will clash with the high acidity in the wine).

Your homework for this week and weekend is to drink six Sauvignon Blanc. You are excused from this assignment on Thursday, as September 1 is #CabernetDay, but then you must dive back into your devoirs! Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé (the other Loire Valley Sauvignon benchmark) are highly recommended. Quincy is a less expensive alternative to these, not quite like the authentic article but at least you will be drinking from
the same region at about half the price. Marlborough is also a must. These are ubiquitous and plentiful – shop in the US$13-$18 range, you can almost pick blind because they are so consistent! If you can get a Graves or another white Bordeaux called Entre-Deux-Mers, grab one for a unique experience. Then see what is produced near you. Sauvignon Blanc can pack up and move anywhere to thrive, so you’ll find wines from various US States, Austria, South Africa, Italy, Chile and various other locals in your store or on your fave wine website.

Then just for kicks, treat yourself to a Sauternes. This is the celebrated dessert wine of Bordeaux, the only place in the world famous for making sweet Sauvignon Blanc (blended also with Semillon and Muscadelle). You deserve dessert! Do Tweet your notes to @wineLIFE_ #SauvBlancHW. Tell us which one was your favorite (please include the wine’s name, vintage and region), how much you paid for it and its best qualities. You can also post notes on the wineLIFE Facebook wall. Bottoms up!

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