A Sauvignon World

I love Sauvignon Blanc, a grape that
never seems to get the respect it deserves. It lives in the shadow of
Chardonnay, king of the market, and grapes such as Riesling that have
regal status among wine writers, or grapes such as Gruner Veltliner that
catch a trend and become a passing fad.
This may be because Sauvignon Blanc lacks an iconic identity that
defines the grape. Chardonnay = white Burgundy, Riesling = Germany. Even
France is schizo when it comes to SB, with different styles in Loire
and Bordeaux. Winemakers working with SB have no model to copy.
Of course, this can be great for us, as we can experience the various
ways SB can express itself around the world. I hope you’ll follow my
exploration of “A Sauvignon World
on WineReviewOnline, a new Web site devoted to finding the world’s best
wines.
Two wines that I experienced for the first time in researching this
column are from Sauvignon Republic, a new California-based negociant
firm that aims to market Sauvignon Blanc from various regions around the
world to showcase how it performs in various terroirs.

Sauvignon Republic’s first two releases are from California and New
Zealand, arguably at opposite ends of the SB flavor spectrum. The 2004 Russian River Valley
is just a tad high in alcohol, at more than 14%, but unlike many in
that range it has fruit to match the heat – mango and creamy papaya
flavors and a medium-long finish.
The 2004 Marlborough has the grassy-vegetal flavors
typical of New Zealand, but it shows admirable restraint in that it
doesn’t push these characteristics over the top. It also has great
texture and body, which add complexity.

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