Winemakers from throughout the world seem to have mastered the ability to make consistently tasty Sauvignon Blanc wines at fair prices, perhaps better than they have achieved with any other varietal. Many big red varietals (Shiraz/Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot) don’t fare well in the lower priced categories, often coming across as clumsy, high-alcohol grape bombs with no varietal characteristics. Cheap Chardonnays have a style, but not one many care for: tropical nose; fat and fruity on the palate with little acid balance for matching with food.
On the good news side, I’ve tasted some 20 Sauvignon Blanc wines lately and Tweeted about a dozen of the best values, including five from Marlborough, New Zealand, which is the most consistent area for the varietal. The wines are in wide distribution, although prices may vary.
Sauvignon Blanc Values
Big Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc nose 08 Brancott $12. Grapefruit x2. A little much for some. Tight, crisp, good flavor. w/ahi salad.
Fruity Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 09 Dashwood $18. Grapefruit nose; round, but decent acids, hints of residual sugar; long finish. w/BBQ shrimp kabobs.
Inoffensive quaffing Sauvignon Blanc 09 Ferrari-Carano $12. Light, grassy nose; soft, lower acids. Party sipping w/munchies.
Summer sipping and easy-drinking party Sauvignon Blanc 08 Goldwater Marlborough $14. Subtle SB nose, stone fruit vs. grapefruit; soft off-dry.
For fans of softer Sauvignon Blanc 09 Hanna $12. Light weedy herbaceous nose; soft, low acids; decent flavor; short.
Crisp but food friendly Sauvignon Blanc 09 Chile Los Vascos, Casablanca Valley, Lafite Rothschild domain $18. Clean SB nose; balanced fruit/acids. Good finish. w/cold shrimp apps, ceviche.
Quaffable party Sauvignon Blanc 08 Montes $10 Chile. Light herbaceous nose; soft, a little short. w/cheese, breads, munchies.
Value Sauvignon Blanc 09 Jau $10 Roussillon, France. Clean SB nose; decent acids, mid-body, good flavor. w/sandwiches; seafood, clams.
Value French Sauvignon Blanc 08 Guy Saget $10 Loire. Light SB nose; mid-soft body; some character/style, good finish. 12.5 alc. Lighter style appeals to many.
Party/picnic box wine 09 Silver Birch Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $24 3L (4 bottles; equivalent of $6 each for a standard 750ml). Clean SB nose; mid-body; semi-crisp. Boxes are great for football tailgate parties.
Lighter style Sauvignon Blanc 09 Sterling Mendocino Organic $11. Subtle varietal nose; soft finish; good flavor. W/munchies.
Less herbaceous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 09 Villa Maria $18. Subtle SB nose; mid-body, decent acids/fruit/finish. w/shellfish.