E Wine of the Week
Domaine des Corbillieres Sauvignon Blanc
A crisp white from France’s Loire Valley
Last week we discussed some hearty reds for those who defy the current heat wave, so this week let’s look at some wines that really pair better with this weather. They also pair well with summertime menus.
Try a new wine this week!
Like most of the wine grapes we know and love, sauvignon blanc originally came from France, but unlike the others it has two regions that claim it. In the southwest sauvignon blanc is the primary grape for white wines in Bordeaux. There it’s often blended with lesser amounts of semillon. In the northwest it’s grown near the Loire Valley towns Sancerre and Pouilly. The word ‘fumé’ in the wine name Pouilly-Fumé, translates to ‘smoke’ and refers to a mineral component from the soil that some people taste in the background of the wine. It was the inspiration for Fumé Blanc, a popular style of California sauvignon blanc meant to be more reminiscent of Pouilly-Fumé than of the grassier style found in Bordeaux.
Sancerre’s crisp, tart, racy/minerally style is much better known today since it was compared with New Zealand sauvignon blanc in the early stages of that country’s rise to prominence. When New Zealand sauvignon blanc was first gaining popularity, people said “they taste like a French Sancerre”. Now people say that a French Sancerre tastes like a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. New Zealand breathed new life into this traditional grape to become the fastest growing wine region in the world for most of the past decade.
California has seen a lot of new sauvignon blanc vineyards established because of this new-found popularity. Many are marketed as “New Zealand style” meaning less emphasis on oak and a crisper, racier style.
Chile has long excelled with this grape, and long ago those most familiar with Chilean wines knew that sauvignon blanc grew better there even though chardonnay outsold it.
Italy has a few good sauvignon blanc areas, primarily in the Emilia-Romagna region, in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains between Bologna and Parma. Spain also has areas with good examples of this grape, notable Rueda.
For a French original, I like one from the Tourraine area in the heart of France’s Loire River Valley. Domaine des Corbillieres will show you the crisp, racy acidity and clean fruit flavors of the sauvignon blanc grape, with a touch of the minerals that define its more expensive neighbors in Sancerre. It retails for around $18-$20.