Spring is here, fresh as a slap across the face and bursting with life. The snow has melted, the creeks are flowing and the grassy hills are emerald green.
Time to forget Uncle Chardonnay. You are no longer required to acknowledge his round, ripe-apple belly, buttery texture, and pronounced wood-shed aroma. That overweight, Burgundian bully was just put on time-out.
It’s time for Sauvignon Blanc to shine like a wildflower at sunrise, erupting with floral aromatics and citrus zest. No need to hide behind a wooden mask of oak. Sauvignon Blanc is a free spirit, unafraid to express her inner colors and vibrant nature.
With these two dominant white varietals competing for your taste buds, what’s the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay?
Contrary to Chardonnay, which takes shape from a winemaker's interaction (barrel fermentation, stirring, racking and / or sur lie aging) Sauvignon Blanc derives its character from where the grapes are grown (climate and soil type); a true expression of terroir, if you will. Primarily fermented in stainless steel tanks with little or no time spent in barrel, the wine retains its freshness and remains crisp, clean, and pure. Malo-lactic fermentation, the process which gives wines their buttery flavors and creamy textures, is usually prevented or halted. This creates a lighter, brighter flavor profile allowing for herbaceous subtlety and nuance from the soil to shine through.
Although widely planted the world over, and greatly successful in various climates, there are three regions that stand out when discussing Sauvignon Blanc.
Now let’s take a tour.
Among the gently-sloping hills and storybook villages of the French countryside lies the Loire Valley. Also known as the “garden state” of France, the Loire is a sprawling grape growing region located in the middle of the country and home to some of the world’s most distinctive dry white wines. Throughout the lush landscape, small-block vineyards are strategically quilted along the famous Loire River. This long-flowing water source acts to keep temperatures cool, resulting in wine with sharp, piercing acidity. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume are the two big names in Loire where Sauvignon Blanc is rarely blended with other varietals.
Stylistically restrained rather than exuberant, these wines portray elegant flowery perfumes. Flavors of lime, grapefruit and lemon with a trademark chalky minerality on the finish characterize these wines. Sauvignon Blanc is also the leading white grape in Bordeaux and is blended with the fatter Semillon to round off the edges.
Kiwis, Sheep, Lord of the Rings, Sauvignon Blanc.
As their flagship wine, Sauvignon Blanc, particularly from the Marlborough and Hawkes Bay regions, has put New Zealand on the map as a premium wine producer. With unavoidable coastal influence and a drastically different style then our buddies in France, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is intense, in-your-face and powerful.
These wines showcase searing aromatics of lime and fresh cut grass with distinct grapefruit and tropical overtones. They commonly offer green flavors of bell pepper, tomato leaf or spicy jalapeno. Mass produced wines can be over-cropped and are notorious for their pungent “cat pee” aroma. However, connoisseurs will agree that New Zealand is host to some of the most delicious, unique and expressive Sauvignon Blanc in the world.
Our globetrotting adventure leads us back to our very own Golden State. With persistent cool ocean breezes off the Pacific, magnificent mountain ranges, and hot inland valleys, Californian Sauvignon Blancs are diverse as its people. In Napa Valley, warmer summers bring out the lush, tropical flavors in the grape. With deeper ripening, the wines become fuller, less acidic and approachable.
On the Central Coast (Monterrey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara) the continuous coastal influence keeps temperatures moderate, allowing the grapes to retain their natural acidity. Central Coast Sauvignon Blancs liven the senses with powerful aromatics, deep fruit flavors, and tantalizing crispness.
Curious about Fume blanc? Mondavi coined this phrase back in 1968 as a marketing tactic and it stuck. Fume Blanc is simply Sauvignon Blanc that is often, but not always barrel aged and or fermented. This results in a softer, creamier style which many have grown accustomed to and still appreciate. With such varying climates and countless soil types, California puts Sauvignon Blanc's versatility to the test.
Eight Sides – Sauvignon Blanc – Central Coast – 2012
Our current release is sourced from both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. It is a delightful and refreshing white wine ready for your day at the beach. Fermented cool in temperature controlled tanks, this wine offers bright aromas of lemon zest and crisp acidity followed by layers of rich tropical guava fruit and a smooth clean finish. A friendly invite to a picnic in the park, this wine pairs perfectly with sushi, rotisserie chicken, grilled prawns, and a sesame-infused salad.
Now it’s time to put your adventure shoes on, grab a bottle of our Sauvignon Blanc and go out and get some sunshine. Be sure to #bestcoastwines in your photos. Would love to see what trouble you get into :)
See you at the beach,