by Advanced Sommelier Jenny Benzie
Summertime is synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc. No other wine screams “drink me” on a hot summer day as a relief to the scorching heat more than this racy, acidic white wine that is full of fresh fruit, minerality ,and a lively finish. With so many different styles from regions across the world to choose from, it can be hard to decide which one you would work best for you. Here are a few selections for you to learn more where each wine comes from and what makes them stand out in a sea of Sauvignon Blanc options.
A WHALE-Y GOOD ONE
Any day on-island is a good day to visit the Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum, not just on a Grey Lady kind of day. The same can be said true of when it comes to drinking Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. The vineyards of this Sauvignon Blanc specialist are located in the cool, maritime climate of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley appellation in Walker Bay, located a couple hours south of Cape Town on the western coast. Winemaker Anthony Hamilton Russell’s aim is to combine distinct South African fruit and flavor expression with classic styling and refinement. This international best seller of a wine offers classic Old World, tight minerality and length that complements the prominent varietal fruit with hints of New World palate coverage and body. The wine is named after the rare Southern Right whales, which frequent the cool South Atlantic Walker Bay, just a mere three kilometers from the vineyards. With each bottle sold, Southern Right makes a contribution to the Southern Right Whale Conservation. This wine is perfect for those who love Sancerre and want to venture out of France.
Cheese Pairing: Blue Ledge Farm Goat’s Milk Crottina: This first generation, family owned and run goat dairy and cheese-making operation uses sustainable farming practices based on a cornerstone of respect for the land, the animals and the consumer as well as our local community. Aged for three weeks, the texture of this cheese is velvety and smooth, with a white mold exterior, and is simply divine.
While utopia is defined as an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect, this is exactly what some people may refer to when talking about Nantucket. This utopia is also represented as the city Xanadu, which appears in Samuel Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan in reference to a dream he had about the home and summer palace of the Emperor of China Kubla Khan. The area of Margaret River in Western Australia and these visions of utopia hence led to the winery namesake of Xanadu “Exmoor” Sauvignon Blanc- Semillon. Established in 1977, this winery was a true pioneer of the region. Xanadu continues to be a family owned and operated winery dedicated to producing expressive wines of quality and distinction that reflect the true characteristics of the Margaret River region. This easy drinking favorite has a zesty palate of freshly squeezed lemon and lime flavors combined with tropical fruits on the finish. A small additions of sémillon wine adds some body to the finished product, without the weight of aging it in oak. It’s easy as Sunday morning to drink now with a convenient screw-top closure.
Cheese Pairing: Brillat-Savarin: This soft, white-crusted cow’s milk cheese is a triple-cream brie from the Normandy region of France. The luscious, creaminess of this cheese will long linger on your palate with every tasty bite.
HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
Daydreams and visions are what help us to map out our road to discovery and new outlooks. Such is the case in producing wine in the Casablanca Valley of Chile. This area is located 80 kilometers northeast of the capital city of Santiago and just 20 kilometers from the seaboard of the Pacific Ocean. Aptly named Vina Casablanca “Nimbus” Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, this wine offers tropical fruit like lychee and passion fruit. The fresh mouth is intensely acidic, with mineral notes, delicious texture and creaminess that lead to a long and persistent finish. This boutique winery is located in the westernmost area of the valley, between the Coastal Range and the Pacific Ocean to the west and is greatly influenced by the Pacific Ocean breeze, with morning fogs that give way to clear skies in the afternoons. The name Nimbus refers to the clouds that gently descend upon the valleys of Chile, reflecting the exact balance between temperature and humidity and providing optimum conditions for producing classy wines. The tall sleek bottle design will also have you reaching for the clouds as you tap open the endless possibilities this wine has to offer.
Cheese Pairing: Tomme de Chèvre: Made from goat’s milk of the Savoie region in France, this is an aged, washed rind cheese with a semi-soft, silky paste and an earthy aroma, mixing smoky, meaty flavors with grassy notes. Heavenly with Virginia Chutney Co. “Spicy Plum” chutney!
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
The wines of Saint-Bris hail from the Burgundy wine region of France, a few kilometers southwest of the Chablis area. What makes Saint-Bris something of an oddity for Burgundy is that it is made from Sauvignon grapes (blanc and gris both permissible), rather than the Chardonnay grape of Chablis and the notable white Burgundies the region. It is the only Burgundy AOC that allows Sauvignon in the wines. Wines from vineyards around Saint-Bris planted with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, the red grape of the region, are not included in the Saint-Bris AOC, but are labeled under a different appellation name. The vineyards have been deemed worthy enough to achieve such status, however cannot be referred to as a Burgundian wine. WILLIAM FÈVRE SAINT-BRIS is a beautiful example of such a wine. Pale straw in color, with aromas of grapefruit, peach, and exotic scents of lychee, this complex wine is full and flowery on the palate, with a hint of salt and spice in the finish. Domaine William Fèvre works passionately to express Chablis’ terroirs, respecting the region’s environment and traditional practices with sustainable growing, and make this wine is the same passion and care.
Cheese Pairing: Missouri Truckle White Cheddar: while the word truckle, refers to a cylinder shape, this typically refers to something made out of plastic or metal. The long aging of this cheese, however, is clothbound, which allows the diamond in the rough cheese to breathe resulting in a dry, crumbly texture. The crispness of the cheese and wine go hand in hand, no doubt.
As you allow your mind (and palate) to open and expand your horizon in regards to Sauvignon Blanc wines, enjoy what this top white wine grape has to offer from around the world. Their extremely versatile styles and terroirdriven expressions will leave you with a host of new wines yet to be discovered that will suit just about any palate.