I Give Sauvignon Blanc a Bad Rap

This is another set of tasting notes that addresses one of my New Year’s Resolutions: Catching up on my samples. As the New Year dawned, I took a look at the growing pile of samples on the floor and realized I needed to get to work. I figured I was roughly six months and 300 or so bottles behind and I needed to change that.

So today I tackle the world’s second most popular white wine grape, Sauvignon Blanc. My first thought when I hear “Sauvignon Blanc”?


I know it is not fair as there are a ton of really good Sauvignon Blancs out there (some I have reviewed below). I just need to get out of the mindset that “Sauvignon Blanc” means that insipid wine that was served at my cousin Cletus’ wedding ten years ago.

I am fairly confident that I will get there, particularly if I keep tasting well-made Sauvignons like these:

2018 Flora Springs Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $30. I found it hard to believe, but this is the first wine from Flora Springs that I will have reviewed either here on this now nine-year-old blog. Incredible. Lovely fruit on the nose (grapefruit, lemon, passion fruit) of this medium-straw colored wine. The fruit, though, is only part of the story with white flower (honeysuckle?), a bit of spicy white pepper, and a whole lot of verve. The palate is perhaps even more impressive and inviting than the nose with wave after wave of fruit, layer upon layer of complexity, and a finish that lasts for well over a minute. It is great to see Sauvignon Blancs of this quality coming out of California. Excellent. 92 Points.

2019 Foppiano Sauvignon Blanc Estate, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $20. Under screwcap. There is not a ton of Sauvignon Blanc in Russian River Valley, but the Foppiano Family has been farming there since 1896 and they have been dedicated to producing the variety even when Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can garner much more of a return in the Russian River. Yellow straw in the glass with a green tinge, bright citrus and tropical fruit with minerality on the nose. Bright and tart on the palate as well–all that a Sauv Blanc should be without being overly grassy or loaded with cat pee (yeah, that’s an aroma often found in SB). Very Good. 89 Points.

2018 Matetic Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Corralillo, San Antonio Valley, Aconcagua, Chile: Retail $22. Under screw cap. I have not hidden the fact that I am no fan of the variety. In fact, when Sauvignon Blanc is the only wine available, I am likely to opt for beer instead (OK, not really, but it is a close call). This wine, however? I might just choose this over other wines. Pale straw color (with some green highlights) but brilliant at the same time in the glass with tropical notes (mango, pineapple) and grapefruit dominating the nose. The palate is defined by an angular sharpness and buoyed by fruit and minerality. While this is not a Sancerre (my opinion of the apogee of SB), but it is pretty darned good and one I would search out. Excellent. 90 Points.

2019 Mud House Wines Sauvignon Blanc, Malborough, New Zealand: Retail $16. Under screw cap. In a tasting note below I literally said: “I have been sampling a ton of Sauvignon Blanc recently but none have come from New Zealand, perhaps the present day ‘home’ of SB. While this wine hails from Chile, it perhaps approaches that Kiwi style more closely than any of the previous bottles of the variety I have tried this season.” Well, a funny thing happened on a return to the sample pile. While this wine is from New Zealand, it is not in that typical grassy/cat pee style. Sure, there are both of those elements (albeit very slight) here but they are held in check by the fruit (oodles of lime and lime zest) and the minerality. The palate is even more enticing with a zingy acidity dominate but also those citrus and mineral aspects. Yowza. It has been a minute since I have been this excited about a NZ SB. A looooong minute. Excellent. 91 Points.

2019 Pellegrini Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $30. Under screwcap. I am not certain, but I would place a healthy wager that the number of both acres and wines dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc in Sonoma County is dwindling. That makes it all the more refreshing to find a wonderful Sauvignon like this from the Russian River Valley. The Pellegrini family has been involved in the California wine business since the early 1900s and today, Alexia Pellegrini represents the family’s fourth generation of vintners. This SB is simply delightful: citrus (grapefruit), lemon rind, and even tree fruit (fresh peach, pear) and just a hint of freshly cut grass. The palate is fresh, tart, and focused with ample fruit, laser-sharp acidity, and a lengthy finish. While I realize there is not a ton of SB from the RRV, I dare to speculate that there are few that show better than this Pellegrini. Excellent. 92 Points.

2019 La Pincoya Sauvignon Blanc, San Antonio Valley, Chile: Retail $18. For whatever reason, it seems like I have been getting a lot of Sauvignon Blanc these days (actually, this is one of my last samples that I received in July, so that makes a bit more sense). I have stated countless times that it is not my preferred variety (not by a long shot), but the versions I have had recently, including this one, have been quite delightful. That means I am either coming around to the variety, winemakers are starting to make more palatable iteration, or I have just been extremely lucky. Maybe a bit of all three? This Chilean wine is pale straw in the glass with that characteristic hint of green, with citrus (lemon, grapefruit) and tropical (papaya, mango) notes on the nose. The palate is fruity but still reserved with plenty of tartness to go around and just a splash of the fresh-cut grassiness. All-in-all rather delightful. Very Good. 88 Points.

2020 Terrapura Sauvignon Blanc, Valle de Curico, Chile: Retail $12. Under screw cap. I have been sampling a ton of Sauvignon Blanc recently but none have come from New Zealand, perhaps the present day “home” of SB. While this wine hails from Chile, it perhaps approaches that Kiwi style more closely than any of the previous bottles of the variety I have tried this season. Tropical and citrus fruit abound here, as does a touch of freshly cut grass and just a hint of cat pee (yeah, that’s a thing with SB). The palate is tart, fresh, and concise with good balance and an acidity that tickles the taste buds all the way through to the finish. Very Good. 89 Points.

2019 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $12. Under screwcap. Made with organic grapes. Bright light straw in the glass with a slight green tinge, and emitting aromas of tropical fruit, golden apple, a bit of fresh-cut grass, and a touch of sulfur. The palate, as one would expect, is quite tart, buoyed by rich fruit, and plenty of flavor. I have said before that Sauvignon Blanc is never my first (or second, or third, or…) choice when coming to choosing a white wine (unless, of course, the label contains the word “Sancerre”), but for around ten bucks? This is a fantastic deal. Very Good. 88 Points.


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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4 Responses to I Give Sauvignon Blanc a Bad Rap

  1. okiewinegirl2015 says:

    I just saw 2019 Mud House Wines Sauvignon Blanc at Costco last night and it’s significantly less than $16. Lately I’ve tipped to the SB side despite past aversion so I’m back to Costco asap. Appreciate your review.


  2. Nicolas says:

    I liked you better when you were giving sauvignon a bad rap 😉

    Just kidding: that would be mean to sancerre, quincy, menetou-salon…

    But go ahead, re-invent the wheel…


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