jamie goode's wine blog: Sauvignon is (mostly) boring

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sauvignon is (mostly) boring

Sauvignon Blanc is a really boring grape variety.

Of course, this is a generalization, which needs a qualifier: we actually drink quite a bit of Sauvignon chez Goode. It's a variety of great utility: well made Sauvignon is a really useful wine. But it rarely makes really interesting wines.

It sounds like I'm backtracking here. I'm talking about a grape variety that's successful, makes wines that are useful, and which I drink quite a bit of. Why bother with the criticism?

It's because I love interesting wine. Interesting wine is what got me into this hobby, which then became a living. Interesting wine is life-enhancing, intellectually stimulating and culturally rich. Sauvignon Blanc is rarely any of these things.

But last night we had a good one. It is the Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Adelaide Hills. There's interest here: a really vivid grapefruity zing providing counter to richer, almost melony fruity notes. It ranks near the top of the Sauvignon tree, I reckon. While I'd say it stops a little short of being a truly serious, intellectually or hedonically inspiring wine, it tastes really nice.

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At 3:08 PM, Anonymous times said...

Jamie Jamie Jamie darling, Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Adelaide Hills - you're too late, i've reported it, bagged it and sponsored it.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Salil said...

I'd argue that Sauvignon Blanc isn't really boring - it's just that there are a lot of producers who make it in some very generic styles that are great for quaffing, but don't have too much more to them - hence the perception that it's boring because those wines dominate the market so much.

I've not had too hard a time finding interesting Sauvignon Blanc - Lawson's Dry Hills in New Zealand produce some very interesting ones (and a nice change from the usual style there with some barrel fermenting/malolactic fermentation), and I do enjoy what Cloudy Bay produces (am keen on trying their Te Koko as well some time soon) as well as some of the Californian and Western Australian ones (both oaked and unoaked). Plus I love blends of that and Semillon - a combination which I've found incredibly versatile and quite spectacular at times.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger James said...

The Shaw and Smith M3 Chardonnay is a lovely drop.

At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Salil - sounds as though you should be trying the Dog Point Section 94. Other wooded SB's of note include the Torres Fransola (which I believe Jamie's commented on positively in the past).

I find SB to be an enjoyable wine and mostly not very intellectual.

Other pure styles I like include the Cape Point from South Africa which has beautiful minerality.

I find the Marlborough style quite a good accompaniment to fish and chips, as well.

At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

BTW -What do you think of Didier Dageneau's wines, Jamie?

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Alastair Bathgate said...

Once you have been round the world trying "interesting" new variations on an old theme, isn't it sometimes nice to come back to the Loire Valley and find a Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé that reminds you of when you got into wine in the first place? One good thing about new world wines is that they have forced (some) French producers into raising their game.

At 7:51 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Should have mentioned that there's one source of serious SB - and that's Austria's Sudsteiermark (southern Styria). I've also had a few thrilling Loires, and a brilliant one from Inama (with some oak - a thrilling wine) and I like Fransola (which has a bit of oak).

At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

Sauvignon is mostly about primary fruit; very few examples take you to the next level. There are some very well made New Zealand and South African Sauvignons but very few with the minerality, complexity and depth tht would allow them to age. The following wines are exceptional for the very reason that they taste of more than the grape variety itself.

1. Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Pur Sang & Silex
2. Cotat - Sancerre La Grande Cote and Les Monts Damnes
3. Alphonse Mellot - Sancerre Generation XIX & Edouard
4. Vincent Pinard - Sancerre Nuance
5. Jacques Salle - Silice de Quincy
6. Henri Bourgeois - Sancerre d'Antan; Sancerre Jadis; Sancerre Le Chene Saint-Etienne

There are also some great Sauvignons from Friuli & Austria but the Sauvignon Quarz from Cantina Terlano is stunning.


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