For all it’s supposed simplicity, Sauvignon Blanc prompts strong opinions, and none stronger than a discussion of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, the topic here today. Some SB drinkers drink SB almost exclusively, and have a real dislike of any but their chosen brand. Chardonnay drinkers have a more tolerant mindset, but in all fairness to the Sauvignon Blanc lover, the inherent components of the New Zealand-produced SB grape make themselves known in the nose, and on the palate, in a way Chardonnay from about anywhere in the world does more subtly. Depending on the winemaker, the acid level and overall balance of SB comes through with a WHAM, and leaves little attitude of ambivalence. I enjoy most varietals from around the world, red, white and in-between, but have my preferences too. I look for quality and value and stick to my latest finds to keep around the house. The 2013 and 2014 (3.6 grams residual sugar per liter) vintages of Babich Sauvignon Blanc provide abundant quality at a reasonable price, and better yet, I like it, and look forward to unscrewing that convenient cap.
The balance of crisp acid and fruit is spot-on. Clean and juicy –– balance, balance. Cook with lots of fresh herbs? The new-mown grass in the nose of this Babich will fit your style. While Sauvignon Blanc is often described as “light and crisp,” I prefer a medium-to-fuller weight and expect a nice, lingering finish. It’s my go-to SB, although I’ll be enjoying others along the way.
I have the 2014 in front of me now, and I’m not sure whether the wine or the beautiful, thick pork chops I’m serving tonight will be the star. Equal billing is the perfect scenario. I grill the chops inside on my Cuisinart grill –– not wanting smoke, or char –– nothing but the tender chop, dressed with a little olive oil before, and a small pat of garlic butter infused with fresh basil, after. If I had oysters or shrimp handy tonight, the chops would wait for another day.
New Zealand SBs are often recommended for “summer” drinking, but don’t cheat yourself. While a glass in hand on the patio on a nice temperate evening is bliss, some Sauvignon Blancs work throughout the year, and, as much more than an aperitif. At heart, I am a red-wine-type-of-gal, but even with snow on the ground I had the 2013 Babich Sauvignon Blanc, fireplace blazing, with an exquisite homemade chicken pot pie with crust so tender it almost brought tears. Crust like my Mom made –– an almost lost art. A really nice pairing.
Sauvignon Blanc is the wine of New Zealand, and particularly, Marlborough. I remember a time when this product was rarely available, and usually unaffordable. At the time, the heady herbaceaous-ness of product from Marlbourough was startling, but it took only a few swirls, and a sip or two, to first nose the freshness, then let the dry finish with some combination of limey, lemony, pineappley, appley, peachy, peary, musky melon, and okay, gooseberry (because everyone says it’s a truth) goodness find its way to your senses –– which didn’t take long. Americans were quickly hooked on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and bought the pricey stuff anyway. Today there are plenty of New Zealand SBs on the shelves. They can still be pricey, and some worth it, but prices have moderated dramatically. I see the 2014 Babich varying in price around the country from $8.50 to $16.00.
Babich is a family winery dating back to the early 1900s. Read more about Marlborough here. Read about French Sauvignon Blanc here, so different from California, Washington and New Zealand.
TIP: Sauvignon Blanc (Sew-ven-yawn Blawnk) (sew rhymes with tow) (ven rhymes with ben) (yawn rhymes with lawn) blawnk has the ‘law’ sound in it – blawnk, rhyming with clonk. In France, Blanc does not sound the ‘c,’ so it is heard as Blan or Blahn, with a slight nasal ‘n’ sound. In the U.S. ‘blawnk’ is appropriate.
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