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Hot Summer Days – Sauvignon Blanc

The wine-growing region of Marlborough on New Zealand's South Island is famed for its Sauvignon Blanc, which makes up 86 percent of New Zealand's wine exports.

The wine-growing region of Marlborough on New Zealand’s South Island is famed for its Sauvignon Blanc, which makes up 86 percent of New Zealand’s wine exports. Courtesy photo

International Sauvignon Blanc Day was April 24 and if you missed it, the weather has caught up with the calendar and you can have your own ISB Day celebration with a wine that’s perfect for warm-weather get-togethers.

Sauvignon Blanc is French in origin but the versatile grape is so popular you can find bottlings from most wine-making areas. The wine shows a range of styles capable of reflecting the terroir of growing regions and offers a zingy acidity as its signature calling card.

Styles vary from the crisp, citrusy flavors (lemon, lime and grapefruit, with a touch of grassiness) of white Bordeaux and Sancerre of the Loire Valley to New Zealand’s cut grass, gooseberry and grapefruit notes with mouth-watering acidity. According to the New Zealand wine website, Sauvignon Blanc makes up 72 percent of the wine produced in the country and 86 percent of the wine exported.

In California, the wine can range from the tropical fruit, citrus and passion fruit similar to that found in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to the less-angular, oak-influenced notes (an ode to Robert Mondavi) of melons and pineapples.

All three styles can have more or less crisp minerality depending on the winemaking techniques (stainless steel vs. oak barrels) and fermentation temperatures. Here are a few I sampled recently.

Mouton Cadet 2012 Bourdeaux Sauvignon Blanc – Grown in the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux where the predominately limestone soils give the wine a crisp minerality and well-balanced notes of pineapple, apricot, citrus and white peach, the mildest of the peach flavors. About $10 (sample). Imported by Constellation Wines US, San Francisco, Cal.

Nobilo Icon 2012 Sauvignon Blanc – According to the winery, 2012 was a classic cool-climate vintage, providing extra hang time for generous fruit flavors and the Icon’s dependable minerality. Grapes for the 2012 blend came from Nobilo’s vineyards in the cooler Awatere Valley (flinty minerality), the warmer Upper Wairau Valley (texture or mouthfeel), and Rapaura (passion fruit, citrus zest) subregions of Marlborough. Notes of green pepper with a hint of jalapeño and lemon zest on the nose and citrus, gooseberry and stony minerality on the palate. $20 (sample).

The Nobilo Regional Collection is from grapes selected from various Wairau and Awatere vineyards. It has notes of pineapple and guava on the nose and ripe tropical fruits and pineapple in the mouth. A well-balanced acidity and long finish add to the wine’s appeal. $11 (sample).

Kim Crawford 2014 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – The grapes for this wine come from the well-drained alluvial soils of Marlborough’s neighboring Wairua and Awatere valleys, home to some of New Zealand’s best South Island Sauvignon Blancs. This 2014 shows crisp acidity and complex range of cut grass and fruit flavors (melon, pineapple, grapefruit, lemon zest and passon fruit) we’ve always enjoyed in Kim Crawford’s wines. About $15 (sample).

SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – Vineyards in the cool Central Coast growing area of Santa Barbara County allows slow ripening and the development of complex tropical flavors with the grape’s characteristic crisp acidity. $11 (purchased). Information here.

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