Zippy and zesty, lush and alive, sauvignon blanc is often heralded as the quintessential warm-weather wine. And with summer just commencing in San Francisco, this refreshing white is a necessity for any home cellar.
California sauvignon blanc often takes a backseat to chardonnay, the state's most planted white variety. But, California yields many fabulous sauvignon blancs in a vast array of styles, from lean and lithe to round and robust. Here are seven to sip this September:
Arietta, “On the White Keys" 2013 (California) $65
The Beethoven-themed winery Arietta produces one of California's most elegant expressions of sauvignon blanc, vintage after vintage. For their “On the White Keys," all-star winemaker Andy Erickson blends in twenty-four percent sémillon, sauvignon blanc's partner-in-crime in white Bordeaux. With a lanolin mouthfeel, this beautifully balanced wine boasts flavors of lime zest, bergamot orange, apricot, and river rocks.
Cliff Lede, Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Napa Valley, California) $25
Cliff Lede's sauvignon blanc falls on the more opulent side of the California spectrum. It brushes your palate in broad, waxen strokes, with a pillar of Meyer lemon, pineapple, and melon at its center. Whereas so much sauvignon blanc is praised for its velocity, this one's delightfully languorous – as if it's basking in the summer heat right there with you.
Ehlers, Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (St. Helena, California) $28
Ehlers' sauvignon blanc is a bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On the nose, there's a delicate perfume of magnolia and orange blossoms – exactly what you want your fresh laundry to smell like. Yet it strikes the palate like a lightning bolt of acidity. It's a high-speed flash of lemon, lime, grapefruit and minerals.
Merry Edwards, Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Russian River Valley, California) $32
One of the most highly coveted clones of sauvignon blanc is the rich and aromatic sauvignon musqué. In this Merry Edwards wine, sauvignon musqué clocks in at fifty-three percent of the blend. The wine smells of acacia blossoms, anise and chaparral. On the tongue, it oozes juicy pear, honeydew and grapefruit.
Robert Mondavi, “I Block" Fumé Blanc 2011 (Oakville, California) $90
One of Napa's most iconic wineries, Robert Mondavi produces five different dry sauvignon blancs, and they're all fantastic. But, their top-shelf rendition is really something special. A parcel in their treasured To Kalon Vineyard, the “I Block" is believed to be the oldest surviving sauvignon blanc vines in the Americas, planted in 1945. The resulting wine is like a black hole of flavor; no California sauvignon blanc can match this one in its compactedness.
St. Supéry, Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Napa Valley, California) $22
St. Supéry is one of the rare California wineries who's most famous for it's sauvignon blanc. Like Mondavi, they have a number of offerings worth exploring. Their entry-level bottle packs quite a punch at a great price. It strikes a fabulous balance between zippy citrus flavor and lush tropical fruit.
Trione, “River Road Ranch" Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Russian River Valley, California) $23
Sonoma's cool Russian River Valley is more commonly associated with chardonnay than it is sauvignon blanc. Yet some of the sauvignon blancs, Trione's among them, are breathtaking. This wine tastes of cantaloupe, Granny Smith apple, sweet Italian basil and key lime pie. It manages to be at once rich and gratifying as well as agile and energized.