Tasting Sauvignon Blancs With Sauvignon Republic
Ever since ZAP in January, I've been all pumped up about the idea of tasting ones in just one varietal. I got to have the experience again yesterday at a tasting held by the Sauvignon Republic and Blue Lifestyle at the Water Grill in Los Angeles. This tasting was even more of an education in that it included eight Sauvignon Blancs from eight different growing zones from around the world. Sauvignon Blanc thrives in cooler climates and the Sauvignon Republic asserts that it is the grape that most expresses the terroir of the places that it is grown and that it is the most food-friendly wine. Certainly its light fruit and grassy aromas make it a natural wine for warmer months. Sauvignon Blanc often comes in at a low price point and is perhaps not considered a luxury wine but as winemaker John Buchenstein was quick to point out, it is this varietal (combined with Cabernet Franc) that is the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Buchenstein gave a fascinating lecture of the various expressions of the grape in wine, breaking down the differences between the Old World and New World styles of Sauvignon Blanc. The eight growing regions for Sauvignon Blanc are: the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, the Casablanca Valley in Chile, the Sancerre region in France, the Friuli of Italy, Marlborough in New Zealand, Styria in Austria, Stellenbosch in South Africa and the Collie hills in Slovenia (on the border with Italy). As you might suspect, the Old World styles rely on more traditional ways of winemaking and have a more austere and refined taste. New World wines tend to be fruitier. The tasting was done blind so that we could all guess which wines were Old World or New World.
Of the eight wines tested I was particularly enthralled with the 2005 Fantinel Sant'Helena, Collio which had an amazing gold color,a brown sugar like nose and a delicious fruity mouthfeel. A more restrained but equally intriguing wine was the 2005 Domaine Patient Cottat, Villeges Vignes, Sancerre. Both wines cost around $20 and would be great with fish or with Thai food. The 2006 Sauvignon Republic, Marlborough has the classic grassy/vegetal scent that is associated with Sauvignon Blanc and offered a mouth full of fresh green flavors and the 2006 Sauvigon Republic, Stellenbosch offered the distinctive minerality (a sort of wet stone taste) that comes with some Sauvignons.
These light and bright wines were complemented by a couple of fish dishes from chef David LeFevre from the Water Grill. First he tempted us with Chincoteague and Quilcene oysters. After the jump, the rest of his amazing appetizers.
The piece on the left is hamachi yellowtail with spiced muscat grapes, the piece on the right is a tiny sandwich made with seviche between platain chips in a butternut squash puree.
That little sandwich again, those little black dots are candied black beans. This was heavenly.
Here we have a crab cake with a spicy sauce and salmon topped with salmon eggs and pea and beet purees.
Slivers of beet and carrot rounded out the presentation. The pea puree was amaziingly light, more like essence of pea than pea soup.