15 best sauvignon blanc wines
From Chile to Slovenia by way of South Africa, these are the finest bottles we could find
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We all know how wonderful the sauvignon blanc is from New Zealand, and there are great examples to be had in California, as well as in its original home in Bordeaux. But the green-skinned grape has now become a worldwide commodity, cultivated in South America, the Iberian Peninsula and South Africa, along with more perhaps unexpected regions, such as Germany, Slovenia, Romania, Italy and even Canada. So why not open a bottle and go travelling from the comfort of your dining room?
J M Barbosa Ninfa Sauvignon Blanc 2015, 13%: £12.50, Slurp
This is a delightful Portuguese single estate wine that’s 85 per cent sauvignon blanc and 15 per cent fernao pires, the local grape that adds an aromatic touch to the bright citrus and gooseberry flavours. The grapes are harvested early to add an extra bit of exuberance and a pleasant minerality. A wine to enjoy with fish or light pasta dishes.
Cono Sur Reserva Especial Sauvignon Blanc 2016, 12%: £9, Tesco
Here’s a bright, refreshing, aromatic sauvignon blanc with citrus, green apple and floral notes, made from grapes hand-picked from the coolest area of the Casablanca Valley in Chile. Can be enjoyed by itself as an enlivening summer aperitif or as a splendid accompaniment to light seafood dishes.
Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2016, 13.5%: £13.99, Majestic
From the oldest wine-growing area in South Africa, where the 2016 growing season offered low yields but full-flavoured grapes, comes this vibrant sauvignon blanc bursting with the tanginess of fresh passion fruit, green apples and gooseberries. Can be drunk now or allowed to develop until 2021.
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2016, 13%: £11.99, Waitrose
Another Chilean favourite from the recently acquired Manzanar vineyard just 12km away from the Pacific Ocean. The grapes are hand-picked early in the morning and a portion of them undergo a pre-fermentation cold soak that heightens the the full-on passion fruit and herbal flavours. It’s that coastal climate which provides the cool conditions that give this wine its distinctive and bright acidity that offsets the full-on passion fruit and herbal flavours.
Krasno Ribolla Gialla Sauvignon Blanc 2016 13%: £8.99, Majestic
Slovenia’s wine production may be small – accounting for only 0.5 per cent of European vineyards – but its wines are top class. This wine from the Goriska Brda region on Slovenia’s border with Italy is a winning blend of sauvignon blanc and the Italian/Slovenian ribolla gialla grapes, producing a wine with fruit and floral notes and a pleasing acidity. And at this price, it’s a real bargain.
Redentore Delle Venezie Sauvignon Blanc 2016 12%: £15.95, Organic Wine Club
With a name that pays tribute to the Venetian Feast of the Redeemer and a label that pays homage to the tessellated floor of St Mark’s Basilica, you realise that you have an Italian wine that upholds the traditional wine-making skills of the Venezia region. Although this scintillating sauvignon with its peach and jasmine flavours and herbal notes also nods to more modern standards by having no added sulphites.
Robert Oatley Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2016, 12.5%: £12.50 Winedirect
A fine wine from one of the big beast of the Australian wine scene. This Margaret River wine, part of Robert Oatley’s “Signature Series”, has everything that you’d expect from a classic sauvignon blanc – fresh scintillating flavours of passion fruit and herbs and notes of new-mown hay and lime. Stick some chicken or fish on the barbecue and enjoy the taste of summer in a glass.
Waters & Banks Haywire Sauvignon Blanc 2015, 13.5%: £32, Red Squirrel
Canadian wine anyone? We may all know about Canadian ice wines, but the Canadians have been building up a pretty nifty wine scene in recent years, including this admirable Okanagan Valley sauvignon blanc made at a state-of-the-art winery in Summerland, British Columbia. Naturally fermented with no additives Fruit and citrus flavours abound with herbal notes and a very agreeable acidity.
Zorzal Eggo Blanc de Cal Sauvignon Blanc 2015, 13%: £15.95, Slurp
From a winery located 1.35km above sea level in in Gualtallary, Argentina, comes an attractive sauvignon blanc that bears the message: “It is the incarnation of my ego created from lights and shadows.” What the wine-making Michelini brothers mean by that is open to question, but what isn’t is the quality of the wine with its high-altitude fruity intensity and flint-like minerality. Produced, naturally, with state-of-the-art technology that includes the egg-shaped stainless steel vats that give this wine its name.
Emil Bauer & Söhne Asshole Sauvignon Blanc 2016, 12.5%: £18, Red Squirrel
I suppose you might call this a statement wine. From on-trend fifth-generation German winemakers Alexander and Martin Bauer comes a sauvignon blanc that’s unconventional in everything but taste. Made from grapes grown on a 29-acre vineyard in the Pfalz region of southwest Germany, it’s a big and fruity wine that’s done better than some New Zealand favourites in a blind tasting. And the label’s bound to start some interesting discussions over the dinner table.
Torres Fransola Sauvignon Blanc Penedès 2014, 13.5%: £19.95, Tanners
From the high vineyards of the Penedès in Catalonia comes a Spanish sauvignon blanc with an engaging split personality. Fifty per cent was fermented in stainless steel tanks whereas the rest was barrel-fermented and aged for eight months in American and French oak. It’s fragrant with mango and pineapple flavours and enticing oak notes.
Carmen Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015, 13.5%: £14.99, Ocado
From one of Chile’s oldest and most established wineries – it has been producing bottles of the good stuff since 1850 – comes a sauvignon blanc made from grapes hand-picked from their La Bruna vineyard in the chilliest part of the Leyda Valley, just 8km from the Pacific. It’s vibrant and intense with those characteristic passion fruit and citrus aromas and a long finish. A wine to savour.
Anette Closheim Savvy Sauvignon Blanc 2016, 12%: £12.75, Oddbins
Anette Closheim is making a big name for herself in the German wine industry and supplies the sommeliers of many of the country’s top chefs. She decided to bring sauvignon blanc back to the Nahe region of the Rhineland and this striking wine, where the fruity flavours are beautifully balanced with a zesty minerality, is the result. An ideal wine for long summer days.
Umbrele Ville Timisului Sauvignon Blanc 2016, 12%: £7.35, York
They’ve been producing good wine in Romania since the 15th century but it’s only recently that wine drinkers have become aware of the quantity and quality of the product. This refreshing gooseberry and green fruit-flavoured sauvignon blanc offers a splendid taste of summer at a very affordable price. Enjoy it as a perfect aperitif by or with fish, chicken and salads.
Bradshaw Sauvignon Blanc, 12%: £4.50, Asda
Is it possible to buy a decent bottle of wine for under a fiver? Well perhaps just about. This sauvignon blanc from an Anglo-Romanian winery in the village of Recas near the Hungarian border passes muster with its full-on fruity flavours and an acidity that some may find a little full. But hey, if you want something to go with your Thai green curry that tastes better than a can of supermarket lager, then you can’t go wrong.
New may not mean necessarily better, but the characteristic gooseberry-passion fruit flavours of a good sauvignon blanc change in subtle ways from region to region, whether it’s the the aromatic minerality of the Chilean Cono Sur Reserva, the pleasing acidity of the Slovenian Krasno Ribolla Gialla or the vibrancy of the Argentinian Zorzal Eggo. Going off the beaten path, the German Emil Bauer & Söhne “Asshole” is an intriguing wine in more ways than one while the Canadian Waters & Banks Haywire is a rewarding find. Best Buy is the balanced but zesty Joao M Barbosa Ninfa from Portugal.
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