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Wine of the Week: A Sauvignon Blanc for Every Occasion

Photo by Courtney Humiston. 

I have a little something I like to call the Sauvignon Blanc test. It's fairly simple, really. The test involves drinking an entire bottle, late at night or early in the afternoon, with whatever you have small amounts of in the refrigerator: a bit of hard cheese, a few cornichons, last night's peas with pasta, a cold kale and ricotta pizza, perhaps.

Sauvignon Blanc  – the heroine of the Loire Valley – has served nobly alongside Semillon in White Bordeaux and, for many 20-something American ladies, put New Zealand on the map. It is every bit as versatile and just as complex as the queenly Chardonnay. Unfortunately, Sauvignon Blanc is often mistreated, especially in California, where cloyingly fruity versions can exhaust your palate after one glass.

Which is why you must have at least three – hence, the Sauvignon Blanc test. Does it finish clean and dry? Does it taste a bit like wet stones? Do you want another glass or would you prefer to dump it down the sink and pour a glass of Chablis? Can you drink it with both prosciutto and mango-topped vanilla ice cream sprinkled with togarashi? 

A good Sauvignon Blanc will take the onslaught of flavors and textures in stride. Which is just what the lovely Russian River Valley wine by Virginia Marie Lambrix does. This is a wine you should always have close at hand: For every picnic, for every late-night fridge binge, for every last-minute dinner party, for every occasion winter, spring, summer or fall. Fermented in stainless steel with some lees contact, it strikes that perfect balance between fruit, grass and stony minerality. But don't think too hard — it just tastes good. Oh, and the label is really pretty.

2012 VML Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley: $22 directly from the winery or at Dry Creek Kitchen.

Courtney Humiston is the sommelier and Wine Director at Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg. Each week she will be selecting a Bay Area wine especially for 7x7 readers.