Those trying to describe Sauvignon Blanc may use words like “sunshine” and “citrus” and “fruity.” But the international wine variety is unique and offers vast depth. Here are a few standout options. (A few were sent for consideration.)
Can a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc be poured as the final selection in a wine tasting, sipped even after powerful current release and library Cabernet Sauvignon? Absolutely, if that wine is Georgia by Lail Vineyards.
Tasting as a guest of the winery, I had a chance to sip a version of this elegant, elevated wine with Principal Robin Daniel Lail, enjoying her 2012 Henry V Sauvignon Blanc, a small production of the best barrel used to produce her epic Georgia, produced for Napa Valley Vintners “Premiere Napa Valley” trade auction.
Like Georgia, the wine is dry farmed in her Yountville Totem Vineyard, barrel fermented in 100 percent new French oak and aged 18 months. Though 6-years-old now, there was brightness within the wine, enveloping the palate without overpowering, proving the age-ability of premium Sauvignon Blanc.
When Georgia was first produced in 2002 there was nothing quite like it in New World winemaking, as barrel fermenting Sauvignon Blanc in 100 percent new oak and aging for an extended period was not the norm. Lail proved that Napa Valley could create complex, highly textured Sauvignon Blanc, elevating the status of the variety, and the region.
The 2016 Lail Georgia Sauvignon Blanc, with honeysuckle, crushed stone, and wild woody herb also reveals white truffle earthiness, enhanced from dry farming, melding seamlessly with Meyer lemon and white peach. The Henry V is available through Cliffewood Wine Syndicate; 2016 Lail “Georgia Sauvignon Blanc ($150) is available at Sigel’s. Crafted for early enjoyment, Lail “Blueprint” Sauvignon Blanc ($40) with melon, fennel and cream notes is also available at Sigel’s.
Cuvaison Winery produces stellar cool-climate Bourgogne varieties from their Carneros estate, but their Sauvignon Blanc may soon be the scene stealer with their newly released Method Beton Sauvignon Blanc produced using 100 percent concrete egg fermentation and aging. Their vivacious Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($24, McKinney Wine Merchant) has included juice from the concrete fermentation in the past, but winemaker Steve Rogstad found the complex character of the 2017 egg-fermented wine to be so intriguing, creating a softness within its vibrancy and well-rounded palate, it needed its own bottling. ($35)
Mountainside-grown Sauvignon Blanc is not the norm in Napa, but Acumen is proving that nuanced whites can be made from steep Atlas Peak slopes. Aromatic and inviting, the wine is layered with lemon leaf, jasmine, and pear. ($30)
Melding oak and stainless steel, ensuring freshness with texture, Pahlmeyer Jayson Sauvignon Blanc ($40) layers golden peach with slightly grassy, crushed stone and citrus notes for a zesty, intricate wine.
With Bordeaux style, historic Inglenook adds Semillon to Sauvignon Blanc ($35), using stainless, new and neutral French oak, creating body, depth, and complexity.
From the Oak Knoll AVA Ladera Sauvignon Blanc ($30) ages the wine on the lees for 6 months enhancing the character, without weighing down the expressive wine.
Old-vine Sauvignon Musque creates Cliff Lede Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($25, Pogo’s) developing inviting flavors of honeydew, nectarine, and peach.
Simply known as Sauvignon, Italy’s Russiz Superiore ($28, Jimmy’s) highlights the diverse microclimates of their Collio estate, revealing floral and herbal notes with well-rounded citrus flavors.
From Napa’s DANA Estate, VASO Sauvignon Blanc ($50) is their everyday white produced from the same prized vineyards that craft their highly regarded DANA. The sustainably crafted wine celebrates imagination with tradition.
New Zealand’s Kim Crawford produces significant amounts of the country’s signature grapefruit and gooseberry-filled variety. Their Signature Reserve ($25, wine.com) is something different, focusing on small lots of Marlborough fruit. These grapes enjoy hot days and cool nights, ensuring ripe fruit maintains acidity, creating a vibrant, zesty wine.
Flora Springs proprietary Sauvignon Blanc Soliloquy clone ($50) produces the winery’s flagship white, with the 2017 vintage adding Chardonnay and Malvasia, giving softness and aroma to the fruit forward palate.