Long courtships can be magical. But most of us, microwave-minded Americans, wouldn’t know that. Sauvignon Blanc has courted me for years, but I’ve been evasive, secretly snubbing the Sancerre bottles colleagues have deemed royalty. I’m a Viognier-girl. I’m a Marsanne and Roussanne-girl. When I think of Sauvignon Blanc, I think, “white grapefruit.” Big deal.
It wasn’t until sommelier school that I realized how diverse Sauvignon Blanc can be. I have had Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs that boasted soursop and jackfruit aromas, and I’ve had Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs that smelled of ceviche and a Miami Beach shore after it rains. Suddenly, Sauvignon Blanc isn’t as corny.
The 2010 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Estate Grown Fumé Blanc ($30)—California Sauvignon Blanc is sometimes called Fumé Blanc—is not corny. Apricot, white peach, roses and lavender aromas emerge from white grapefruit, lemon drop, lychee and white pepper flavors. I love the saltiness at the finish, that beautiful minerality that beckons oysters, Bahamian conch salad and codfish pâtés. It’s absolutely delicious and three days later with no fancy wine preserver, it’s still unraveling on my palate.
The bigger lesson here is not to rush to judgment if you have a bottle or two of a particular wine, and you didn’t enjoy it (hint, hint to you, Merlot-haters). There are so many different interpretations of a single grape or a single regional style, and there are so many viticultural details and vinification practices that can distinguish one producer’s style of Sauvignon Blanc from another producer’s, for example.
But you don’t have to worry about those details. The key to really enjoying your wine journey is to stay open. Don’t rush into marrying any particular label because a critic highly recommends it. Explore your options. Roam friskily from region to region, bottle to bottle and allow yourself to be wooed for a change.
Dinkinish O’Connor is an award-winning writer. Her food sojourns have taken her everywhere from the shanty town bistros of Kingston to the gnarly vineyards of Bordeaux. She has written for Wine Spectator, Condé Nast Traveler, The Miami Herald and other publications. Dinkinish received her sommelier certification and hosts innovative wine tastings. To see what’s happening in Dinkinish’s sumptuous, little world, check out, “Gourmet Squatter,” a blog that explores how to sip high on a low budget.