Sauvignon Republic 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

This week I went upscale (or a little upscale) and tried a $19 Sauvignon Republic 2008 SB from the Marlborough region of New Zealand's South Island.

When I poured the first glass, I could immediately tell how that extra $10 or so makes a difference.  The aroma was much more pronounced than other SBs I've tried.  It really went right for my nose.  I didn't get any asparagus, let alone cat pee, but it was very herbal.

That extra $10 also showed itself drinking the wine.  This SB was a lot more complex than the cheaper ones I've tried, and I could begin to distinguish the different notes in it.  The bottle says gooseberries and "herbal grassiness" and "restrained minerality", but I thought I tasted vanilla.  Or maybe a fruit flavor with vanilla overtones.

Whatever the flavors, a great bottle of wine.  But I don't think it keeps that well.  I drank about half the bottle the first evening.  When I poured a glass the next night, the complexity seemed to be gone, both in the aroma and in the flavor.  It could have been a much cheaper bottle of wine.

Moral:  Never don't finish a bottle of wine in one sitting.

Sauvignon Blanc Wine Glasses has another excellent article relevant to drinking SB.  The really relevant bit is this: 

""white wines -- which rarely need to breathe as much as reds -- get glasses with narrower bowls that allow the wine to sit in a more compact shape, helping them keep cold longer."

(Actually I knew that white wine glasses had narrower bowls, but I didn't realize why.)  Most of their taste tests -- I think the results are all in their heads.

The author recommends somewhat pricey Riedel glassware, but amazon carries the Bormioli line, which is much cheaper and receives excellent reviews.

For the article, go here:  The comments are quite entertaining too, with one by me; you'll be able to figure out which one.  So did Salon pay for his $125 test bottles of wine?  Where do I apply?

Matua Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009

This Matua Valley Marlborough 2009 Sauvignon Blanc has more body than the last one I reviewed.  It's definitely more acidic and you can almost "roll it around on your tongue."  Since I'm just beginnining to explore the world of SB, I couldn't pick out any particular fruity notes, but it wasn't chalky, and the aroma wasn't especially "asparagussy".  It's a decent middle-of-the road wine in the $11 range.  (And I like their label.)

According to the back of the bottle, Matua Valley was the first winery to produce SB in NZ, back in 1974.  Doing a little wikipediaing, I discovered that Matua Valley is just the name of a winery (apparently), not an actual valley.  The Marlborough region is on the NE end of New Zealand's south island.  Production of SB there kicked off NZ's wine industry in the seventies, and SB is still the predominant varietal grown there, followed by pinot noir and chardonnay.

St Hallett Barossa 2007

I was looking through the limited Sauvignon Blanc assortment at a smaller local liquor mart, and I came across a St Hallett Barossa 2007 that uses SB, semillon, and riesling grapes.  So I decided to give it a try.

First, I wonder why an Australian winery would label a bottle of wine "Poacher's Blend".  Kangaroo poachers? Dingoes ate my baby poachers? 

The Barossa Valley is a major wine-producing region northeast of Adelaide in South Australia, which I didn't know until 30 seconds ago.

The wine itself:  very light, about the lightest white wine I've ever drunk.  I was thinking if I added some carbonation it would make a nice fizzy drink.  No distinctive aroma to speak of.

Maybe I was imagining things, but it seemed like the glass I drank after it had been in the fridge for 3 days was sweeter than the first glass:  because of oxidation maybe?

An interesting wine.  I'm wondering how it would be in a sangria, if it could stand up to all the other flavors.

Wente Louis Mel 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

The last two or three days I've been drinking a 2008 Wente Vineyards Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc. This is my first USofA sauvignon blanc in my current round of tastings.  The bottle (cork, no handy screw cap) comes from California's Livermore Valley and runs about $12.

This was my least favorite SB of the ones thus far, even counting the first one, which I thought was too sweet.  The color of this one seemed too pale to me, and the aroma didn't capture my attention at all.  No asparagus, no cat pee.  Nor did the taste.  This wine was like one step above white grape juice.  The vineyard's web site claims it has "aromas of guava, melon, gooseberry, citrus, and tropical fruits," but I didn't smell or taste any of them.  Maybe a little citrus.  It's certainly drinkable, but at $12, I think it could show a little more distinction.

Marlborough 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

A mini-review here of a 2008 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc made by Kim Crawford, who's based in Auckland, New Zealand.  It ran in the $14 range at Sam's.

This had more flavors and wasn't as sweet, but had a little more bite, than its $8 predecessor that I drank last week.  I thought I detected a little chalkiness, and reading up on SBs, I noticed that chalkiness is often a quality, though more often in French ones.

Not a bad SB for the price.  I'm not a big fan of chicken on the grill (especially my brother-in-law's), but this would nicely accompany grilled chicken (properly cooked).

Sauvignon Blancs: Background Info from

I guess I fell into a trend when I decided to try a few Sauvignon Blancs. has an interesting article on them this week and how they're due to be a Next Big Thing in the wine world:
To excerpt a few points from their story:  the author calls this a "green" wine with notes of lots of green thingees, including herbs, kiwi, lime, even honeydew. (He actually calls the grape green, but same difference.) 

He describes SB as having a higher acidity than chardonnay, and I'll agree with that. I like flavors that tend to be sharper, not the frequently found soda pop marketed as wine, like my sister's beloved "pink Zins".  

He says many people are put off by SB's aroma, as opposed to chardonnay's aromatherapy, which he says many drinkers compare to asparagus or even a whiff of cat pee.  Having to had to get rid of two wonderful male gold cats because of their predilection for peeing where they weren't supposed to, I'm well acquainted with that smell, and I haven't smelled it in a bottle of wine yet.

And I learned that "Fumé Blanc" is just a name given by Robert Mondavi in the 1960s to California-brewed SB aged in oak barrels that's supposedly asparagus/cat pee-less, less greeny, and "richer and fuller, riper and less acidic".  Sounds to me like that's dumbing down some of SB's strong points, but I'll search out a couple bottles of FB and let you know.

Chateau Bonnet Sauvignon Blanc

I'm going to start throwing in some wine reviews here, though my main focus will stay cocktails. It gets tough trying to throw together different cocktails often enough to keep the posts here frequent enough to keep readers' attention.  I tend to go for reds, though I also like dry whites.  Just like I don't like sweet cocktails much, I'm also not big on sweet wines.

I picked up a Sauvignon Blanc on sale at my local liquor mart for under $10:  it's a Chateau Bonnet, Entre-Deux-Mers (between 2 seas), 2008.  The grapes in it are sauvignon, semillon, and muscadelle.

For a dry wine, it still seemed sweet to me and close to a chardonnay.  I didn't pick up any particular notes in it.  Not a bad wine, but just a Get You Where You Wanna Go wine.