Whether you’re on a sweeping veranda, a cozy patio, your neighbor’s Weber-equipped deck, or your back porch, Sauvignon Blanc gives you shelter from the summer. Crispness hits your lips, tongue, and all the rest, causing you to sigh and close your eyes. Now you get some subtle herbal flavors that some call grassy, but herbacious is the preferred term. Livermore Valley Sauvignon Blanc is light on both.
I learned from the excellent wine writer Karen McNeil of Wine Speed says that “Sauvignon” is a combination of two French words: ‘sauvage” for “savage” and “vigne”for vine. In the mid 16th Century Sauvignon Blanc grew in a vineyard in the Basque area of France, neighboring a vineyard of Cabernet Franc that sang, “You make my heart sing Wild Thing.” The inevitable happened and Cabernet Sauvignon was born, taking its rich flavors from daddy and its whomp from mama.
In 1882, 19th Century Livermore Valley’s Charles Wetmore went on the road to Bordeaux’s Château d’Yquem and returned with Sauvignon Blanc cuttings that he planted in his Cresta Blanca Vineyard on Arroyo Road. Creesta Blanca-- It the first planting of the variety in California. He made wine at his Cresta Blanca Winery on Arroyo Road. Wetmore’s dry white wine won the grand prix at the Paris Exposition of 1889. The vineyard and winery ended up with a sordid history, but is now owned by Wente and is spiffed up. What was the winery is now a tasting room and event center. The white hills whence Cresta Blanca is ts named dominate the scene.
2017 Bent Creek Sauvignon Blanc Mendocino County ($24) A light, bright wine bursting out all over with crisp, fresh citrus flavor and a fine lingering finish. Arlo Guthrie sang me down to the Big Easy on the City of New Orleans. This Sauvignon Blanc complemented and complimented (“Oh that tastes good”) our Po’boy sandwiches of fried crawfish and shaved truffles on that one-of-a-kind New Orleans bread--crisp crust, soft inside.
2015 Chouinard Sauvignon Blanc Livermore Valley ($23). This favorite of winemaker Damien Chouinard was also the favorite of judges who hung a gold medal around its neck. It’s clean as a houndstooth, as crisp as mountain air, and dry as an algebra book. This delicious treat is from primo grapes. For pairing with this suave Sauvignon Blanc, Mr. Jones knew what was going on when he served shaved truffles and a tuna salad on Beckman’s 4-seed sourdough bread.
2018 3 Steves Sauvignon Blanc Livermore Valley Donavan Vineyard ($26). This Sauvignon Blanc was fermented in two stainless steel vessels-- in one, the three Steves used a yeast to help the mouth feel--in the other a aayeast to enhance fruit components. Viola! It plays aromas and flavors of Redhaven peach, Bosc pear, and pineapples from the coast of Malabar. At the Monster Jam I introduced it to Salvadorian chorizo and shaved truffles: Game, set, and match.
2017 Ruby Hill Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Livermore Valley ($22). The juice for this wine was left in contact with the skins for one hour before pressing. This reserve Sauvignon Blanc throws stone fruit aromas, followed by guava passion fruit and floral love notes. This wine is very drinkable with a long finish. I left my loge at intermission for a glass of this paired with asparagus rubbed with cilantro, cardamom and raspberries--lightly grilled and served cold with shaved truffles.
2017 Mitchell Katz Sauvignon Blanc Livermore Valley ($16 ). Using the familiar Sunshine label this Sauvignon Blanc will light up your life with refreshing crispness, unloading a cargo of fresh tropical fruit, guava, crunchy valuable minerality, Betty Crocker Pineapple Upside Down Cake and a skosh of Hosui Asian pear, lime zest, and hypoallergenic grapefruit seed extract. It cooled off my pairing of Louisiana hot links. And shaved truffles, of course.
2018 Dante Robere Sauvignon Blanc Livermore Valley ($26). A bright, crisp wine with a trio playing flavors of honeysuckle, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday, grapefruit, and Del Monte pineapple chunks. Reggae was in the air and Natty Dread was on the box when I introduced this Sauvignon Blanc to Jamaican dasheen with shaved truffles. The two got up and stood up for this pairing, They could have danced all night.
2012 Pat Paulsen Sauvignon Blanc Lodi Mio Vigneto Vineyard. This vaunted Sauvignon Blanc is by guest vintner and grower Dwight Busalacchi, who learned to make wine from his grandfather. He planted in an area where some said only red-wine grapes would grow. Hah! His first shot with Pat Paulsen Vineyards went gold. His wine is light and crisp with good structure and balanced acids. It met with shaved truffles and a pair de well with pakoras that are crisp on the outside and evoke potato salad inside.