My views on wine are ecumenical. There’s room in my life for a big, buttery chardonnay and a steely, unoaked version. Ditto a big, lively zinfandel (esp. if served alongside a chilly day and a warm fire) and, at other times, a refined and delicate pinot noir.
So, I was tickled when a wine importer sent me three kinds of sauvignon blanc, one from Chile, one from New Zealand and one from the United States. Trying the same variety from different regions is always fun because you don’t have to be a heavy duty wine geek to pick up the differences. It’s also a good way to figure out what kind of wines you like best, which is, after all, the point.
Here are the three and my impressions.
Justin 2010 Sauvignon Blanc: This was the leanest of the lot, perhaps not too surprising since 2010 was a wet and cool year in California. The taste was very dry with sharp notes of citrus and a light, crisp feel in the mouth. Not a cocktail wine, this is best accompanied by a light and creamy dish like fettuccini Alfredo. Or mac and cheese. SRP $15.
2011 Chasing Venus Sauvignon Blanc: This is from Marlborough, New Zealand, a hugely popular region for this variety. As you know, I love New Zealand and Marlborough, but this one was a little too herbaceous for me. But if you like that characteristic, boldly flavored sauv blanc with more than a little hit of pipi de chat, then look no further. SRP $16.
2011 Casa Silva Sauvignon Blanc Reserva: Ding-ding-ding. Chile comes through once again. This is a fabulous wine from Chile’s Colchagua Valley using grapes from vineyards near the Pacific Ocean, part of that country’s shift to cooler growing regions for crisper whites. It’s light, floral, delicate and delicious. Also relatively low alcohol, 12.5 percent, and price, SRP $12. Highly recommended with food or for a sunny afternoon porch-side.
And do try this at home. You can really liven up a dinner party, and look like quite the knowledgeable wine connoisseur, if you bring out different versions of the same grape. You might try a French red Burgundy alongside an Oregon pinot noir or a French Chablis next to a California chardonnay. Maybe you’ll like the unfamiliar wines, maybe you won’t, no “right” answers here, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know, will you?