Sauvignon Blanc is one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s parent grape varities, and undoubtedly one of both the Old and New World’s most well-known white wines. In France and New Zealand, we see this grape express itself with high acid and notes of citrus; and of course with Australia, there is more of a grassy touch than with French Sauvignon Blanc, which expresses classic minerality from its soils. In California, we find styles that emulate the structured, high acid, citrus-driven bottlings from France and New Zealand, some with grassy notes like in Australian Sauvignon Blanc, as well as those that inherently suggest its native, warmer California climate.
Take the difference between a Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc and a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Sonoma County’s often high acid, citrusy, structured Sauvignon Blancs contrast greatly against many of Napa Valley’s fuller, richer, more tropical fruit driven Sauvignon Blancs. The wine I am sharing with you today is certainly representative of a classic Napa Valley style of Sauvignon Blanc--Franciscan Estate Winery’s 2014 bottling. This wine is an excellent buy for any white wine lover at $17 a bottle. After tasting the quality (of course, always doing so prior to looking at the cost), I was incredibly surprised by its affordability.
To enjoy a well-made Sauvignon Blanc from a warmer climate is akin to getting kissed by the tropic sun. I love the way this wine lures me in with a welcoming invitation to enjoy its ample body, lush mouthfeel, delicious flavors and crisp acidity. I must admit, I’m not the first person to reach for a Sauvignon Blanc when I want to enjoy a white wine. However, I have learned over the years that this versatile grape variety can show itself in many ways—some of which I enjoy very much.
Napa Valley’s classic interpretation of Sauvignon Blanc always seems to include a gentle, tropical essence—no doubt from the valley’s heat. The Franciscan Estate 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is no exception: the nose is rich and full of tropical notes such as lychee, kiwi and mango; honeysuckle, lemongrass, wet rocks and granite minerality linger just above the glass, as well—harkening to those great mineral aromas you find in French Sauvignon Blanc. On the palate, complex flavors of mango, kiwi, underripe strawberry and lemon zest mingle with minerality, overlaying just a kiss of lemon/lime and butterscotch. Talk about flavor profile! I was certainly impressed by the layers of flavor that were all nicely embodied in a rich, silky mouthfeel followed by crisp acidity on the finish.
When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, there are many approaches in winemaking styles that can yield a fun range of results. Whether you’ve been a Sauvignon Blanc fan for years, or are only just now beginning to explore this varietal, I urge you to taste across regions and to discover what style your palate likes best. For me, a full Napa Valley style is exactly what I want from this stunning grape variety ,and Franciscan Estate’s 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is a beautiful approach to this classic varietal.