I hate to harp, but it’s time for my annual plea to give more respect to sauvignon blanc.
Sauvignon blanc has always played second fiddle to chardonnay. Even today, California has six chardonnay vines planted for every stick of sauvignon blanc.
I have no problem with chardonnay. It can be extra-fruity and rich, with flavors from pineapples to caramel apples. But sometimes it can be too opulent, too sweet, too heavy to go well with food.
Sauvignon blanc is light and lively, zingy, fruity, tinged with minerality — often a much better match with food.
Let me describe some experiences with it:
At a barbecue at the Sonoma Harvest Fair wine competition: We plopped fresh, raw oysters in cocktail glasses, filled them with sauvignon blanc and downed them as shooters. Exhilarating.
At Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant in Miami Beach, with a plate of his giant claws and Joe’s famous mustard sauce. Perfection.
At Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden’s mango festival with a tart green mango salad with spicy Thai birds’-eye chiles. A wonderful match of tart with tart.
If that doesn’t convince you, maybe this will: The average sauvignon blanc is a few bucks cheaper than a chardonnay of equal quality.
• 2011 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County (84 percent sauvignon blanc 8 percent sauvignon musque, 8 percent semillon): crisp and vibrant, medium-bodied with aromas and flavors of lemons, limes and white grapefruit; $20.
• 2011 Carmen Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile: A Chilean wine with New Zealand-style gooseberry flavors and mouth-watering acidity; $15.
• 2011 Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford/Napa Valley: lush and rich, with floral aromas and ripe peach flavors; $24.
• 2011 Francois Lurton Hacienda Araucano Sauvignon Blanc, Lolol Valley, Chile: crisp and lean, with mineral and white grapefruit flavors; $11.
• 2011 Franciscan Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley: light and crisp, with aromas and flavors of pink grapefruit and minerals; $17.
• 2011 Murphy-Goode ‘The Fume’ Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast (94 percent sauvignon blanc, 6 percent semillon): Hint of oak from barrel fermenting, ripe peaches from semillon, rich and crisp; $14.
• 2011 Gary Farrell Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley: floral aromas, flavors of tart lemon and lime, bright and crisp; $25.