The Wine Cellar: Sauvignon blanc—maybe you’ve heard of it?

Sauvignon blanc (pronounced saw-vee-nyonh blahnk) is certainly not as well known as, say, chardonnay, pinot grigio, or riesling; however, its popularity is on the rise. France and California produce the largest amounts, while New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and Argentina produce some in smaller numbers.

This type of wine originated in France’s Loire Valley. Australia, Italy, and Washington state are also starting to produce sauvignon blanc, although their production rate is much lower than the other regions’.

This wine is also sometimes referred to as fume blanc. It is available as a single varietal, or it is sometimes blended with semillon, another type of wine. As you might have guessed, the grapes used in making this wine are related to cabernet sauvignon grapes.

Typically, this white wine is light to medium bodied, and can have quite a range of flavors and aromas. Flavors include vanilla, butter, cream and oak. The aroma can be fruity with scents of grapefruit, melon, or lime, or it can be vegetal with scents of green pepper and olives. Sometimes it can even be herbaceous, which is a fancy way of saying it has grassy or earthy aromas.

Whatever the aroma may be, it is usually strong and distinct. The flavors and aromas can vary greatly because of factors such as the climate, blending style and fermentation process.

Sauvignon blanc tends to be very food-friendly. It can be paired nicely with vegetables, salads, fish, chicken, ethnic food and various cheeses. Foods that have been flavored with strong seasonings, such as garlic, artichoke, onion, Italian seasonings, cilantro and peppers, also work well with this wine. Sauvignon blanc wines are usually quite affordable and typically cost less than a chardonnay. The following are some I consider to be good values.

Geyser Peak Winery, California—This sauvignon blanc has aromas of grapefruit, lime and citrus. The flavor also includes grapefruit and tangerine. The producer recommends you pair this wine with any type of shellfish. A bottle will cost around $10.

Kenwood Vineyards, California—This is Kenwood’s most popular wine. It has aromas of citrus and herbs. They recommend you pair it with shellfish, salads and vegetables. This wine will cost anywhere from $12-$15 a bottle.

Covey Run, Washington—Covey Run’s sauvignon blanc has a variety of aromas and flavors that include different types of herbs, pineapple, lime, gooseberry and apple. It pairs well with shellfish and any type of creamy pasta. This wine costs around $8 a bottle.

Domaine Fournier, France—This wine has earthy aromas and flavors with hints of fruit. Domaine Fournier recommends pairing this wine with strong cheeses. It sells for $8-12 a bottle.

From the Oct. 25-31, 2006, issue

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