Something about the thought of summer waiting around the corner turns my taste buds from the heavy tannic reds of winter to light, refreshingly crisp white wines.
When I think of lighter summer menus — Caesar salads, corn on the cob and shrimp on the grill — sauvignon blanc, with its fresh acidity, comes to mind as the perfect partner.
France’s Loire Valley is best known for producing high quality sauvignon blanc, but this grape also flourishes in the soils of California and New Zealand (where it is quickly becoming the signature wine).
Wines from the Loire Valley will be labeled in the European style, by region rather than grape and knowing that Sancerre and Pouilly Fume are sauvignon blanc growing areas helps avoid confusion. Most wines from places other than Europe will clearly list the grape varietal on the front label.
A safe tip for being a savvy sauvignon blanc buyer is: If it isn’t from a cool climate, you most likely will end up with a flat, flabby and drab example of this refreshing, zippy grape. Examples of warmer regions that grow this grape are California’s Central Valley or Spain’s La Mancha. When shopping in retail stores, stay with wines from cool climates, and you will rarely be disappointed.
- 2008 Benziger Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $11 retail)
- 2007 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $17 retail)
- 2008 Blackstone Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $12 retail)
- 2007 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $17 retail)
- 2007 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $16 retail)
- 2007 Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $13 retail)
- 2008 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $18 retail)
- 2007 Chateau de Sancerre, France (about $29 retail)
- 2007 Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $20 retail)
- 2007 Pascal Jolivet Attitude, France (about $20 retail)
- 2007 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $24 retail)