Wine of the Week

The ones from France are more complex

Wine of the Week

Sauvignon Blanc comes in many styles

Sauvignon Blanc is a chameleon grape that changes its flavors, aromas, and colors based on where it is grown. United States consumers are currently in love with New Zealand's style – brazen wine that gives you a thwack of concentrated grapefruit aromas. But the wines we want to discuss are at the polar opposite end of the spectrum. For people who enjoy more subtle and complex Sauvignon Blancs, France's Loire Valley is the place to explore. As usual for France, its versions are normally named for where they are grown, so its Sauvignon Blancs go by names like Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé, or Saint Brix. A French wine with a label that prominently states it is Sauvignon Blanc is most likely a wine made specifically for export and aimed at the "American taste," i.e., trying to inch more to the New Zealand style.

While your favorite store can recommend several good Loire brands, I recommend the wines of Guy Saget, who offers a range of Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs at multiple price points and has the side benefit of being easy to obtain. La Petite Perriere Sauvignon Blanc ($12) is his least expensive version, then you can move up through his Domaine de la Perrière Sancerre ($19), and finish with his top wine, the Guy Saget Pouilly Fumé ($25). All of these wines are unmistakably Sauvignon Blancs, but as you move up through the price range, they become noticeably more complicated with longer finishes and more integrated acidity.

Like most French wines, the sturdy acidity of these Loire wines works best between bites of food. Try them with fresh Pure Luck goat cheese, either on a cracker or crumbled on a lightly dressed salad. The Loire Sauvignon Blancs also match nicely with lightly sauced Gulf seafoods such as shrimp, snapper, redfish, flounder, blue crabs, and oysters. If you're interested in learning about these Loire Valley wines, any good shop in town can order them, but you are best off dealing with a store that has a French wine specialist on staff.

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Sauvignon Blanc, France, Loire Valley, Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé, Pouilly Fume, Saint Brix

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