Exploring Sauvignon Blanc, with nine interesting wines

sauvignon blanc

Exploring Sauvignon Blanc, with nine interesting wines


As part of a session at the Jackson Family Wines internal conference that I’ve been attending this week, we had a big discussion about Sauvignon Blanc. This included a tasting of an array of different Sauvignons, exploring a range of styles. Sauvignon is a really interesting grape variety but it has a bit of an image problem: many wine commentators see it as a second rate cultivar. There seems to be a price ceiling for Sauvignon, too. It’s capable of making great wines, but its reputation has been built on distinctive, flavoursome unoaked styles that offer fun but uncomplicated drinking. This makes high-end Sauvignon a bit of a hard sell. There were some interesting wines in this line-up, including the excellent Dog Point Section 94, a couple of great Pouilly-Fumés, and an Italian rarity.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
No surprises here: a fairly solid commercial Marlborough Sauvignon. Very expressive and bright with pretty grassy notes and attractive rounded fruit. Typically Marlborough with keen acidity and a vibrant fruitiness. 88/100

Francois Crochet Les Amoureuses 2014 Sancerre, Loire, France
This is a good example of Sancerre, although it lacks real excitement. Linear with nice precision to the citrus fruit flavours. Quite textural and a bit stony. 88/100

Robert Mondavi To Kalon Reserve Fume Blanc 2013 Napa Valley, California
This is a lovely wine, made from a really good terroir that, if it were planted to Cabernet, produce some very expensive grapes. Instead, these old Sauvignon vines have been allowed to remain, and they make a compelling example of this variety. Barrel fermented for 9 months with 37% new oak. Really interesting with some oak impact. Lovely smoky edge to the grapefruit fruit with a touch of creaminess and some nutty notes. Fresh with nice intensity and potential for development. 92/100

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc 2014 Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France
A great example of good white Bordeaux. Beautifully expressive with lively lemon and grapefruit characters meshing well with some waxy, taut nutty oak notes. Nice density here with some structure, good acidity and lively aromatics. So expressive with good ageing potential. 93/100 

Didier Dageneau Silex 2009 Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France
This has lovely texture here. From a ripe vintage. There’s a nice creaminess under the broad, textural fruit. There’s pear and white peach here, and some subtle melon and tangerine exotic character. There’s a fine toastiness which integrates really well with the fruit. A striking wine with some weight but also some delicacy. 94/100

Cape Point Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Cape Point, South Africa
This is fresh, delicate and lively with lovely grapefruit and pear fruit. Delicate with nice weight, this has precision and purity. 89/100

Miani 2015 Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy
Complex and dense with lovely weight. Some grapefruit freshness and some melony richness. This is really stylish, with some well integrated oak (40% new) and lovely fruit intensity. 93/100

Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lively with some reductive notes nicely integrated into a core of lemon and tangerine fruit. There’s density here and a pronounced mineral component. Really harmonious, this is lovely. 94/100 

Michel Redde Les Champs des Billons Pouilly-Fumé 2012 Loire, France
Lovely crystalline character to the citrus fruit core. There’s nice acidity here with some fine herby notes. Linear with really fine acidity. Mineral and pure. 94/100

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1 Comment on Exploring Sauvignon Blanc, with nine interesting winesTagged
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

One thought on “Exploring Sauvignon Blanc, with nine interesting wines

  1. Yes, Sauvignon does seem to have a reputation as “starter wine” and an associated price ceiling. Works for me, it’s probably my favourite white grape. Best examples I’ve had would include Dagueneau Pur Sang, some of the high-end Villa María and Montana wines e.g. Rail Bridge and wines from super-coastal Chilean areas such as San Antonio and Leyda – plus also South Africa’s Elgin.

    For me it’s just something about the combo of pyrazines with thiols – some reductive and some grapefruit/passsionfruity that gets me every time. Oak can add complexity, ageability and a certain creaminess but I think I prefer to be smacked between the eyes with a hard-core zinger which is right on the edge of acceptability.

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