Typically when people think about Sauvignon Blanc, one of the first things that comes to mind is New Zealand. As refreshing and delightful as New Zealand styles of Sauvignon Blanc can be, there are other countries that also produce show-stopping versions of the wine. Here are a few from around the globe, as well as one from New Zealand, that wine professionals swear by.
7 Sauvignon Blancs to try:
Viña Ventisquero Estates has vineyards in many of Chile’s winemaking regions. The grapes used for this Sauvignon Blanc hail from Casablanca Valley, located about 25 miles away from the Pacific Ocean. The sea breeze and the cool climates are a major influence on the wine. “This is Sauvignon Blanc in the classic sense. There’s gooseberry and tree fruit, a hint of fresh-cut grass, and some underlying stony minerality,” says Matthew Kaner, a host and producer of Somm TV and one of Wine Enthusiast’s 2019 40 Under 40 Tastemakers. He adds, “Enjoy with Chilean Sea Bass or with baked garlic and goat cheese.”
Here’s a Sauvignon Blanc that’s produced in Bergerac, east of Bordeaux in France. It’s “one of the most beautiful countrysides, with rolling hills,” according to Jeff Harding, sommelier and the wine director at New York restaurant The Waverly Inn and Garden. While Bergerac is home to the same grapes as Bordeaux, the region is “more continental and with a longer growing season,” which comes in handy for the Sauvignon Blanc vines grown on Château Laulerie’s clay and limestone, rocky soils. The lengthy growing season gives the grapes more time to ripen, which helps the Sauvignon Blanc develop that fresh acidity the wine is loved for. As for taste, this wine, which includes some Semillon, is bursting with lemon peel and white flower aromas, while grapefruit and mint flavors bring a vibrant energy to the palate. “Very good stuff,” Harding adds.
What’s a list of Sauvignon Blanc without at least one New Zealand bottling? Finding bottles that stand out from the crowd isn’t always an easy feat, but for Kaner, Spy Valley’s offering, made in the heart of Marlborough, is that wine. Kaner says it’s rare to get such excellent structure from a $15 wine. “Grown on alluvial river terraces with veins of stone, this is a dead ringer,” for the top Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire Valley in France, “though it’s grown a world away,” Kaner says.
The wines from Walker Bay Vineyards hail from a spectacular part of the world. The vineyards sit under the shadow of the Kleinrivier mountains and border the Atlantic Ocean, near the South African town of Stanford. The soil from which the grapevines grow is just as dynamic, with a mix of decomposed granite, shale, and outcrops of limestone. The cool climates that grace the region also play a role in the wines. And it’s all especially noticeable in the Sauvignon Blanc. “This wine has really nice structure and fruit,” says Adam Knoerzer, a Pittsburgh-based sommelier and wine educator. With its ripe tropical fruit flavors and steely minerality, Knoerzer describes this Sauvignon Blanc as a happy midpoint between New and Old World expressions.
The Sauvignon Blanc vines grown on Familia Garcés Silva Vineyards in Chile’s Leyda Valley overlook the Pacific Ocean and are ruffled by the constant chilly breeze from the Humboldt Current. The cold air causes the grapes to ripen slowly, and it’s what provides the Sauvignon Blanc with mouth-drenching acidity. “With their vineyards situated less than 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean, there is undoubtedly a maritime influence to this fresh, zesty, and vibrant Sauvignon Blanc,” says Hai Tran, a sommelier and Sommation contributor. “This is a wine that delivers layers of flavor, with a hint of salinity and savory herbs adding the right touch of complexity to the wine’s overall expression. Line up the shellfish platters, fresh seafood, and anything else that could benefit from this wine’s vibrant citrus notes, mouth-watering acidity, and lengthy finish.”
The Sauvignon Blanc vines maintained by the winemakers at Dancing Crow Vineyards lie in the shadow of Mount Konocti, a volcano in the Lake County region of California, just north of Napa. The winery is also just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Clear Lake, the largest natural body of freshwater in the state. It’s no wonder the wine’s fruit flavors are so well balanced with fresh minerality. “I love this unique California Sauvignon Blanc for its similarity to varietals produced in Sancerre or Loire Valley,” says MJ Towler, a rare wine auctioneer and the creator of the podcast, The Black Wine Guy Experience. What Towler finds exceptional about this particular Sauvignon Blanc is how the “notes of citrus fruits intermingle with straw, hay, and grass.”
It’s true that Riesling and Grüner Veltliner reign supreme in Austria, but, according to Tran, the Sauvignon Blanc coming out of the country is more than deserving of some recognition too. Take for example the Sauvignon Blanc produced by the Wohlmuth family in Kitzeck, literally at the top of the Sausal mountain range in Southern Styria, otherwise known as Südsteiermark, which is the highest-altitude wine growing region in all of Austria. “There is a freshness and ripeness to the citrus fruit expression that leads to a rich, almost creamy, mouthfeel that is accentuated with notes of salinity, floralness, and savory herbs,” says Tran, who notes that this particular wine “continues to deliver time and time again, while presenting a great alternative to peers from other Sauvignon Blanc focused regions.”
Note: this bottle is currently sold out