To me, summer means it is time to break out the Sauvignon Blanc. That said, we have been covering them since May in order to get this report out by mid-July, just in time for many vacations. You will find that Sauvignon Blanc wines, in general, are great values, meant to be consumed young. Many of them come with screw caps for easy opening at the beach. Better yet, this year we had a much better batch of Sauvignon Blancs to choose from. I think you will find this year’s Sauvignon Blanc collection of wine recommendations to be very interesting and delightful. There are many Very Good options at all price levels. Even though our top-seven-scoring wines do come with a $20 or more price tag, we do have a few 90 pointers under $20. The best deals in the 89 and 88 point range.
The 2010 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc for $30 is terrific. The panel awarded it 93 points and found it to be the top Sauvignon Blanc in our big blind tasting. On the palate, you will find this wine to be medium-to-full-bodied, very well balanced, and creamy. We loved its delicious flavor profile of mild Bartlett pear and gentle green melon. We also detected a hint of vanilla. It finishes dry, elegant, and refined. The panel suggested drinking this one on its own. Merry Edward’s Sauvignon Blanc is consistently one of the top Sauvignon Blancs that we cover. Despite its popularity and demand by restaurants, you should be able to get your hands on a bottle or two as 9,005 cases were made. Good luck and enjoy!
My next favorite Sauvignon Blanc is the 2010 Cakebread from the Napa Valley. I discovered this gem as part of a flight of wines I was trying along with an order of popcorn shrimp at Legal Sea Foods in Boston. They went perfectly together. It opened with a fragrant and classic gooseberry bouquet with a hint of yellow grapefruit. On the palate, this wine is light-bodied, slightly acidic, and very juicy. I loved its very tasty pink grapefruit flavors with hints of Anjou pear. I scored this wine 92 points. It is well worth its $24 price tag. Pick up a bottle or two for just about any seafood meal that you have planned this summer.
The next five wines all scored 91 points. We will start with the bargain of the bunch. The 2011 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand was a new one for me. At $20 a bottle, it made quite an impression on the tasters who tried it. It opens with a fragrant ripe pink grapefruit bouquet. On the palate, it is light-to-medium-bodied, crisp and shows pleasant acidity. The group talked a lot about how much they liked its ripe lime and grapefruit flavors with pleasant notes of minerality throughout. They suggested trying this refreshing, Sauvignon Blanc with broiled crab stuffed halibut. Finding it might be tricky, as only 1,500 cases were imported. It might require a special order via your favorite wine shop.
Our next wine is an impressive offering that was also a new discovery for me. The 2010 Cade Sauvignon Blanc for $26 is really good wine. Cade is the sister winery to Plumpjack in Napa. Their Sauvignon Blanc is medium-bodied and nicely balanced between its fruit and acidity. Everyone at the tasting liked it a lot and found it very easy to drink. I loved its tasty mild green apple flavors with a hint of pink grapefruit and mild mineralty. This pleasantly refreshing wine will be a perfect choice with grilled mahi mahi.
We return to kiwi land for our next 91 pointer. The 2010 Saint Clair “Wairau Reserve” Sauvignon Blanc for $27 is impressive. It opens with a classic and very fragrant grapefruit and gooseberry-like bouquet. On the palate, this wine is medium-to- full-bodied and wonderfully balanced between its acidity and fruit. I really enjoyed its ripe pink grapefruit flavors with nicely integrated minerality with hints of lime, spice and white pepper. This rather refreshing wine would be perfect poolside on a hot summer day.
Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc always seems to finish in our top 10. This year is no exception. Their 2010 “Estate Grown” for $32 was well received. Especially by the tasters on the panel who like Chardonnay. The reason is, this Sauvignon Blanc has many Chard characteristics. For instance, it is medium-bodied, balanced and rather smooth. Its flavor profile is also similar in that it displays tasty pear flavors with notes of vanilla and banana with a hint of toasted almonds. It finishes dry and elegant. The panel suggested that this is a very nice wine that would perfectly compliment grilled trout almondine.
We close out our 91 pointers with one of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs so far this year. The 2009 Chalk Hill “Estate Bottled” Sauvignon Blanc for $33 made quite the impression on the panel and me. It opens with a very intriguing honey and bees wax like bouquet with a hint of lime. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied, balanced, and round. The panel found its flavor profile to be quite complex. Those flavors consisted of mild lemon with hints of green apple, cream soda, white pepper and vanilla oak. It was a really interesting wine and only got better with some aeration over two days. The panel suggested pairing this Sauvignon Blanc with Coquilles St. Jacques. This one should be easier to find as 7,000 cases were made.
Our 90 pointers lead off with a consistent winner. The 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 “Horse Heaven Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc for $15 is always a very good deal. With 29,000 cases made, it is amazing that this wine is always so consistent. This year’s wine is light-bodied, slightly acidic and crisp. I really enjoyed is tasty lime and green apple flavors with notes of gentle lime mixed in. I would pair this refreshing offering with grilled swordfish skewers this summer.
The Duckhorn 2011 “Decoy” for $17 is another above average Sauvignon Blanc that comes in under $20. With 17,798 case made, it should also be easy to find. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied, slightly acidic, and has a round mouthfeel. Its flavor profile is a tangy lime with nicely integrated grapefruit. I found it to be food-friendly and our small group of tasters thought it would pair well with rare blackened tuna served with mango salsa.
The 2011 Saint Clair “Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block” Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand opens with a fragrant ripe pink grapefruit bouquet. On the palate, this wine is light-to-medium-bodied and shows just a touch of acidity and lots of juicy fruit. The flavor profile is a ripe yellow grapefruit with notes of minerality and hints of lime and coconut. Like many of the options above, this Sauvignon Blanc would pair well with grilled swordfish and zucchini skewers.
Dry Creek Vineyard makes a lot of very nice entry level Sauvignon Blancs. A couple of them are noted below. However, a step or two above those is the 2009 “DCV3″ from the Dry Creek Valley. There are only 252 cases of this wine made. It is very different than the above wines. Particularly different is its weight and mouthfeel. You will find it to be full-bodied, balanced, and smooth. I really enjoyed its tasty mild green melon flavors with hints of green apple. If you are looking for a classy and elegant Sauvignon Blanc that is food-friendly, give this one a whirl if you can find a bottle.
Our last 90 point Sauvignon Blanc is the 2011 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. It is one of the most well-known Sauvignon Blancs in the world and there was plenty of it made. (30,000 cases) This year’s version is almost clear and opens with an inviting green apple bouquet with a hint of fig. On the palate, this wine is light-bodied, balanced, a tad austere, and crisp. The flavor profile is a mineral-infused Anjou pear with a hint of pink grapefruit. The finish is dry and very refreshing. It is a little pricier than most Sauvignon Blancs at $25. However, it is a must try if you are exploring the best Sauvignon Blancs around the world. Pair it with trout almondine.
For our 89 Pointers we will give you a snipit of these intriguing and exciting Very Good Sauvignon Blancs.
Babich 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Marlborough” (New Zealand) $13 (89)
This Sauvignon Blanc wine is light-bodied, balanced, and mouthwatering with tasty gentle grapefruit flavors with hints of pear. It is rather refreshing. Pair this very good value Sauvignon Blanc with pan seared scallops.
Buitenverwachting 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (Constantia, South Africa) $15 (89)
Light bodied, displays crisp acidity and ripe fruit. Tasty green apple, lime, and pineapple flavors with nicely integrated minerality. Pair this lively Sauvignon Blanc with garlic chicken or steamers with drawn butter.
Ferrari Carano 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Fume Blanc” (Sonoma County) $15 (89)
The longer this wine was open, the better it scored. On day two it was certainly better than right after opening it. Mineral-infused mild lime flavors with hints of peach pit, pineapple, and mild yellow grapefruit.
Airfield Estates 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (Yakima Valley, WA) $15 (89)
This Sauvignon Blanc is medium-bodied, slightly acidic and mouthwatering. It displays mild tart lime flavors with notes of gentle green apple and minerality It is quite friendly and nicely complements shrimp scampi.
Saint Clair 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Vicar’s Choice” (Marlborough, NZ) $18 (89)
Light-bodied, crisp and has nicely controlled and mouthwatering acidity. Flavor profile is a ripe grapefruit with hints of lime, peach, and very mild minerality. Ideal summer wine and would pair nicely with lobster risotto.
Merryvale 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Starmont” (Napa Valley) $18 (89)
This wine is light-bodied, tangy, and a tad on the acidic side. Comes together quickly with some aeration. The flavor profile is a mild mineral-infused Anjou pear with notes of green apple and tart lime. Quite expressive.
Neil Ellis 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Groenekloof” (South Africa) $18 (89)
Light-bodied and slightly acidic. Tart Anjou pear and tangy lime flavors with nicely integrated minerality, grapefruit, and white pepper. The panel suggested pairing this wine with grilled Arctic Char or salmon.
Navarro 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Cuvee 128″ (Mendocino, CA) $18 (89)
This crowd pleaser is light-bodied, balanced, gentle and very approachable. Flavor profile is a very light quince and mild Bosc pear blend with just a touch of lime. Finish is dry & very friendly. Perfect complement to fish.
Matanzas Creek 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Sonoma County” (CA) $19 (89)
Light-to-medium-bodied, round and mouthwatering. The flavor profile is a mild lime and green apple with pleasant mineral notes throughout. Finish is quite dry and very lingers for a while after the wine is gone.
Framingham 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Marlborough” (New Zealand) $20 (89)
Medium-bodied, balanced, and mouthwatering. Very tasty mild grapefruit flavors with hints of lime and a touch of minerality. Dry and refreshing. Very food-friendly Sauvignon Blanc. Pair with grilled swordfish skewers.
Vincent Delaporte 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Chavignol” (Sancerre, FR) $31 (89)
This Sauvignon Blanc is light-bodied, acidic and lively. The flavor profile is a tangy tangerine with hints of lime and grapefruit. The panel suggested pairing it with linguine smothered with clams or Coquilles St. Jacques.
St. Supery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Dollarhide” (Napa Valley, CA) $35 (89)
This Sauvignon Blanc has very tasty ripe grapefruit flavors with notes of integrated minerality. We also detected hints of white pepper and peach. The panel suggested pairing this wine with chicken and shrimp paella.
The following recommended Sauvignon Blancs range in score from 88-87 (Very Good) and a few 86 points that are Good values. Check them out as well.
SeaGlass 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (Santa Barbara, CA) $12 (88)
Kendall Jackson 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Vintner’s Reserve” (CA) $13 (88)
Cono Sur 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Organic” (San Antonio Valley, Chile) $13 (88)
Vavasour 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) $14 (88)
Dry Creek Vineyard 2011 “Fume Blanc” (Sonoma County, CA) $14 (88)
Franciscan Estate 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Napa Valley” (CA) $17 (88)
Navarro 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Cuvee 128″ (Mendocino, CA) $18 (88)
Saint Clair 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Marlborough” (New Zealand) $20 (88)
Tom Eddy 2011 Suavignon Blanc “Tenz” (New Zealand) $22 (88)
Patient Cottat 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Anciennes Vignes” (Sancerre, FR) $22 (88)
Cupcake 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Marlborough” (New Zealand) $14 (87)
Dry Creek Vineyard 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Dry Creek Valley” (CA) $16 (87)
St. Supery 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Napa Valley” (CA) $20 (87)
Frenzy 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Marlborough” (New Zealand) $10 (86)
Francois Lurton 2011 Sauvignon Blanc “Hacienda Araucano Reserva” (Valle de Lolol, Chile) $11 (86)
Columbia Crest 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “H3″ (Horse Heaven Hills, WA) $15 (86)
Finally, we hope you enjoy exploring these Sauvignon Blancs as much as we did. Have fun this summer with these very refreshing wines. Please be sure to post comments on your favorites. Cheers – Ken
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