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Summer Whites: An Old Favorite

June 6, 2010

Some people hate Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s a white wine grape that is grown around the world.  You will see a lot of it from New Zealand, California (where it may also be labeled Fumé Blanc), and South America.  But it also is widely grown in France, especially the Loire Valley where it is bottled as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.

But I love it, especially around this time of year.  At its best the wine is light and lively, crisp and citrusy, tart and herbaceous.  I like to drink them young before they lose any of their vitality.

So why would people hate this?
Many also smell like cat pee.  But in a good way, if you can imagine such a thing.  Some people also dislike the grassiness that can dominate a nice sauv blanc.

My friend John was one of these people.  Although I didn’t know it.

John was my serious wine friend, who I had known since freshman year at college.  After buying a house in California, John built the several-hundred-bottle wine cellar he always wanted.  And thanks to his generosity I have tried bottles of wine that aren’t available anywhere.

Whenever he and his wife were coming over for dinner, I would fret for days or weeks about what wine to serve with dinner.  One time I decided to pour him my favorite sauv blanc.

The first time I tasted the wine from this specific winery I was at an industry reception hosted by Hachette magazines at Chaya Brasserie in San Francisco.  I remember all of this because of the wine.  Glasses of white wine were being brought around by waiters, and I just grabbed one and took a sip.

That first sip floored me.

I never expected that a wine could taste like grapefruit.  And this was unlike other wines that tasted like wine, but with a hint of something else that has to be sussed out.  This was knock you over the head and take no prisoners grapefruit.  Except without the bitterness of grapefruit.  It was stunning.

Soon it became one of the favorite wines of the Fussy household.

And when my serious wine friend who had a predisposition against Sauvignon Blanc tried it, this wine changed his mind about the grape entirely.  In fact he started purchasing it by the case.

If you are interested the wine is made by Voss.  Now granted, the wine that floored me was many moons ago, and wines and winemakers change.  Honestly, I haven’t had it for several years.  Mostly because I didn’t even think I would be able to find it out in the Capital Region.  But I recently did, and for a surprisingly reasonable price.

Oddly, the local wine store’s winery tasting notes don’t match up with what I found from a link to a pdf on the Voss site:

The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc displays classic varietal aromas, flavor and texture. Aromas of lemon peel, grapefruit and pineapple combine with a hint of spice and mineral, leading to a delightful combination of intense and exotic fruit flavors across the palate.

If you are looking for a summery sauv blac that costs a good bit less, our everyday choice has been the version made by Geyser Peak.  It is not special enough to have been served to John, but it is stylistically similar to the Voss, and has always brought us a lot of pleasure.

In theory the dry Rieslings of New York would also be a beautiful choice for summer sipping, but I have still yet to fully explore what’s out there.  I know I have a lot of delicious work ahead of me.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    June 6, 2010 12:09 pm

    SB beats Chardonnay and/or the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio with almost any food.

  2. June 6, 2010 12:49 pm

    If in doubt about finding a preferred wine or spirit, visit empire or exit 9. If it exists and is not too small market/regional (outside of this area) they will have it.

    Outside of that, I will have to try it. I am more of a red fan, but sometimes reds can be too heavy for a summer day on the porch. Cheers!

  3. Jenny on the Block permalink
    June 7, 2010 9:08 am

    I found a new favorite inexpensive summer white at a wine tasting at Empire. Hugues Beaulieu Picpoul de Pinet is from the Languedoc region of France, and definitely has a grapefruity aroma (http://www.empirewine.com/wine/hugues-beaulieu-picpoul-de-pinet-2009/). It is the only Picpoul I have found around here, but will keep looking.

    I like a high acid white wine in the summer, so have been exploring some lesser known wines that I can serve my friends who have decreed that they don’t drink Riesling, regardless of how dry it is. My other acidy summer favorites are the Gruener Veltliners from Austria. I think I might give that Voss a try, too!

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