Cheers Wine Panel: Sips of Super Sauvignon Blancs

We asked members of our national wine panel to review some of their favorite sauvignon blancs. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’re an on-premise or retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, contact editor Melissa Dowling at 203-855-8499 ext. 223 or mdowling@specialtyim.com.

Rating System
(92-100 points) A top-flight wine. Superior in taste and character and providing an outstanding price/value relationship.
(86-91 points) A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.
(80-85 points) An above-average wine at a reasonable price point, which many consumers will enjoy.

FIVE STARS        

(97) Fiddlehead Cellars Goosebury Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). A “New World” style, fermented in stainless steel and unoaked to display the beautiful aromas and flavors characteristic of sauvignon blanc grown in the unique micro-climate of Happy Canyon. Fresh hints of peach, mango, and zest of mandarin mingle with a mineral nuance on the nose. Those tropical flavors gently take over the palate and carry through to the finish where the ”terroir” and crisp, lively acidity make you smack your lips. New World, yes, but reminiscent of pouilly-fumé or sancerre. This is a must try for the connoisseur of sauvignon blanc. ($35)

(95) Heron Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (California). Whole-cluster pressing and a three-week cold fermentation in stainless steel results in a refreshing, fruit-forward style with no oak aging. A lush bouquet of peach and pear with a whiff of lemongrass gets your attention. On the palate, you’ll taste melon, apricot, and citrus with a hint of sweet anise. The finish is long and not-quite dry. A simply lovely style. ($15)

(95) J. Lohr Sauvignon Blanc, Carol’s Vineyard 2013 (California). Named for Mr. Lohr’s wife Carol, with a portion of proceeds going to breast cancer research. Classic Napa fruit, with a creamy texture and a perfume nose that offers up robust citrus hints. Rich and powerful with a ingering finish. ($28)

(95) La Chapiniere Touraine Sauvignon 2013 (France). Lush aromas and flavors of honeydew, pineapple and grapefruit abound with lively, refreshing acidity on the lengthy finish. On the very end, a note of flint shows up in a most delightful way. This wine has many characteristics of good sancerre, and is more affordable. ($20)

(95) Yvon Mau Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (France). A 100% varietal wine with aromas and flavors of tropical fruits and citrus. Racy, crisp, and dry on the finish with a hint of minerality. Also an excellent value. ($12)

(94) Markham Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2013 (California). Crisp, bright acidity balances the surprisingly lush and welcoming full mid-palate in this straw-pale gem. Melon and apricot offset the citrus notes, making this a fine accompaniment to steamed bivalves or delicate seafood dishes. ($13)

RMW12_FBR_EstateGrown_LBL_High (TIFF) [CA-ECM2129445 Revision-2](94) Robert Mondavi Reserve Fumé Blanc 2012 (California). This barrel-fermented, single-vineyard wine is a brilliant, bright gold in the glass, with plenty of notes of citrus, white peach and floral hints. Good weight and texture contribute to the attractive grassiness and minerality. ($50)

(94) Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Aveta Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). Bright pale gold in the glass, the nose is a beautiful mix for tropical and citrus fruits, with a touch of the variety’s signature grassiness. A long, balanced finish confirms the wine’s quality. ($26)

(93) Loveblock Sauvignon Marlborough 2013 (New Zealand). This new effort from Kim Crawford’s hilltop vineyards has a welcoming appeal. It is not the one-note, citrus/grapefruit style that pervades New Zealand sauvignon blancs, but rather a lush, aromatic quaff with notes of passion fruit, peach and mandarin orange. A perfect accompaniment to Thai dishes, sushi and soft-shell crabs. ($24)

(93) Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). Elegant and noteworthy. This wine shines with hints of nectarine and stone. Well balanced, pleasing long finish. A must with food. ($35)

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(93) Duckhorn Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). The 31st vintage continues to pay homage to the classic white Bordeaux, sauvignon blanc/semillion blend and oak aging. Rich and full-bodied, strong citrus notes with an underlying thread of minerality. A classic Napa Valley sauvignon with a perfect marriage of subtle grapefruit and lingering melon flavors. The balance of acidity and fruit make for a beautiful experience. ($30)

(93) Oberon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). The wine is a brilliant pale gold in the glass. The nose is a lovely mix of tropical and citrus fruits, with a subtle floral hint. The palate is exceptionally well balanced, with a long, attractive finish. ($18)

(93) Trione River Road Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (California). A delicious white, loaded with complex citrus and tropical fruit notes. Long, elegant and beautifully balanced. ($25)

(93) Whitehall Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (California). Crisp and delightful with a good balance of grapefruit and lime. The finish is gratifying and allows it to work well with linguine and clams in a white broth. ($18)

(92) Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). Looking at the wine in the glass, it is a brilliant straw with subtle green hints. The nose is dominated by citrus, with some stone fruit and spice. The palate is bright, clean, and echoes the nose. The finish is quite long, with a lovely aftertaste. ($17)

(92) Grgich Hills Fume Banc 2012 (California). A taste profile of white peaches, dried apricots, Meyer lemon and tone of minerality. Framed by toasty oak and vanilla from the French oak fermentation. A treat with shellfish. ($28)

(92) Regis Minet Pouilly Fume V.V. 2013 (France). This has a very intriguing nose reminiscent of a Mosel riesling, exhibiting white flowers, wet slate and unripe nectarine.  The palate transports you to the Loire; showing more typical lime, lemon verbena, chalk and mouthwatering salinity. Beautifully balanced. ($25)

(92) Smythe & Renfield Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (New Zealand). Alluring notes of fresh-cut grapefruit, lime and citrus are matched with ripe flavors of passion fruit and kiwis. Excellent with grilled chicken, salads and seafood. ($15)

(92) Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (New Zealand). Pale gold in the glass, this is a delicious example of a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Citrus fruit is accented by typical grassiness. Fresh and bright on the palate; the finish is long and balanced. ($19)

FOUR STARS      

(91) 8 Rios Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Chile). Fresh and fruit-forward, the 8 Rios Reserva is crafted by award-winning winemaker Rafael Urrejola. Sourced from vineyards in Leyda, this sauvignon blanc has pronounced notes of grapefruit, lime and tropical fruit, which meet a textured palate and vibrant acidity on the finish. ($15)

(91) Brancott Estate, The Original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (New Zealand). Pale straw in color with green highlights. Grapefruit and passion fruit taste with a crisp and refreshing finish. Good with grilled oysters, white fish or Mediterranean dishes. ($13)

(91) Grey Rock Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2014 (New Zealand). Charming aromas and flavors of lemon, tart orange, and gooseberries; this vibrant, layered sauvignon blanc is a joy to drink all the way through to its harmonious finish. ($26)

(91) Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (California). A luscious wine with flavors of peach, grapefruit and a touch of vanilla with a hint of pepper on the finish. ($25)

(91) Hess Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). Across the board, a lovely and balanced wine. Pale gold in the glass, with green notes. The nose is a mix of citrus fruit and peel, with subtle stone fruit. Plenty of weight on the palate, the taste reflects the aromas, and finishes balanced and satisfying. ($22)

(91) Martin Ray Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (California). Even-keeled and dry, while still possessing an abundance of tart fruit, the wine sports flavors of pear, grapefruit, and ginger that all weave together in the crisp, palate-cleansing finish. ($20)

(91) Mudhouse Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (New Zealand). Grapefruit, mineral and grass. Lip-smacking thirst quencher. Great with goat cheese appetizers. ($13)

(91) Novas Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Chile). Pale gold in the glass, with green hints, the nose is driven by citrus and tropical fruits. The palate is clean and fresh, with citrus, tropical notes and a hint of spice. The finish is very well balanced. ($14)

(91) Rutherford Ranch Sauvignon 2014 (California). A just-released 100% sauvignon blanc with stainless-steel aging. Beautiful aromas of grapefruit, lemon and watermelon. Medium-bodied with crisp acidity. ($22)

(91) Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Australia). Loads of bright lime and grapefruit notes nicely balanced by crisp acidity, with a long, lingering complex finish. ($23)

(91) Silver Beach Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (New Zealand). Aromas of passion fruit and grapefruit with plenty of citrus and melon flavors shining throughout. Crisp and concentrated. Works well with Asian cuisine. ($15)

(91) Sonoma-Loeb Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). Produced under the Chappellet label. Clean, crisp and elegant in a lighter, softer style. Citrus notes dominate and there is a subtle peach undertone. ($32)

(91) Spier Sauvignon Blanc Private Collection 2014 (South Africa). A sweet perfume of tart orange, lime, and honeysuckle; on the palate an energetic acidity deposits citrus, tropical fruit and toasted almond; the interwoven flavors linger generously on the finish. ($25)

(91) Spier Sauvignon Blanc Vintage 2014 (South Africa). Quite aromatic with fragrances of nectarine, white flowers, and straw; nuanced flavors of lime and grapefruit ally with a crisp finish that is skillfully tinged with minerals. ($19)

(91) Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (New Zealand). Classic New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Gooseberries and red grapefruit dominate the nose. Full bodied and smooth. Good acidity and balance. Rich, viscous mouthfeel. ($30)

(91) Titus Sauvignon Blanc Napa 2014 (California). A bright, energetic Napa sauvignon blanc; pretty floral notes combine with grapefruit, lime, and citrus; a penetrating crispness provides elegant balance on the impressively lengthy finish. ($25)

(90) Cape Point Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (South Africa). Pale gold in the glass, the nose is a heady mix of tropical and citrus fruits, with a hint of spice. The palate is clean, with good weight and texture. The citrus-driven flavors linger on the long and balanced finish. ($25)

(90) Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Washington). Affordable gem from the Pacific Northwest crisp, clean with just a touch of herbs. Another great choice with that plate of oysters. ($12)

(90) Domaine de la Perriere Sancerre 2013 (France). Bright straw color leads to the rich and full mouth feel of white peaches, apricots and exotic fruits. Good length with a crisp backbone. Nicely paired with grilled fish. ($20)

(90) Domaine Paul Buisse 2014 (France). From the Loire Valley, this is an elegant sauvignon blanc, with pale yellow notes in the glass. The nose and palate highlight the legance with tropical and stone fruit components. The finish is bright, balanced, and long. ($13)

(90) Domaine Philippe Portier, Cuvee des Victoires Quincy 2013 (France). Delicate and subtle are the key descriptors here. The nose and plate are both dominated by notes of stone fruit and herbs, with a touch of tropical fruit. Clean and bright, this is well balanced and exceptionally food friendly. ($20)

(90) Dry Creek Sonoma County Fumé Blanc 2013 (California). Pronounced lemon and lime aromatics stand out in the glass on the nose. On the palate, grassy notes are enhanced with zesty grapefruit and muted herbal tones. The long finish encourages further sipping. A rewarding white for the money. ($13)

(90) Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc 2013 (California). Aromas of grapefruit and a hint of lemongrass practically leap from the glass. The palate is crisp and clean, with flavors of citrus, apple and tropical fruits. A blend of barrel and stainless-steel fermentation add a supple creaminess to the mouthfeel and hint of oak on the finish. Clean and lasting finish; very refreshing and enjoyable. ($14-$15)

(90) Galerie Naissance Sauvignon Blanc (California). Aged in stainless steel and French oak, this is a dry medium-bodied wine with honeydew melon and grapefruit the dominant flavors. ($30)

(90) Gassier Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (France). A textbook example of well-crafted French sauvignon blanc; it has flavors of lime, white flowers and a touch of minerals. A mouthwatering finish provides outstanding balance. ($19)

(90) Governors Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (New Zealand).  Dried apricot and honeysuckle add complexity to the passion fruit and citrus fruit flavors. It possesses a gratifyingly crisp finish that is pure, clean and just plain delicious. ($17)

(90) Grey Rock Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 (New Zealand). Fragrant notes of lime, pear and minerals that are reminiscent of a cool ocean breeze; it possesses delightful flavors of citrus, passion fruit, and almonds that linger all the way through to the crisp finish. ($19)

(90) Kenefick Ranch Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). Extremely aromatic and perfumed, citrus and tropical fruits, nice grapefruit acidity, straw color, full mid-palate with a dancing crisp, smooth finish. ($26)

(90) Kingston Family ‘Cariblanco’ Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Chile).  A world-class sauvignon blanc that shows a real sense of place. This wine displays a wonderful balance of ripe citrus notes, chalky minerality and vibrant acidity that reverberates nicely on a long, herbaceous finish. ($20)

(90) Les Roches Touraine Sauvignon 2013 (France). Tense, classic nose of grapefruit and fresh grass. A wake-up call for the palate with bright citrus, pineapple and just a hint of the grassiness that is in the nose. The finish is dry, fresh and crisp. Perfect for goat cheese and raw bar. ($16)

(90) Neethlingshof Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (South Africa). A refreshingly delicious sauvignon blanc, it possesses delicate grassy aromas and flavors of citrus, tropical fruit,and green fig; crisp and succulent on the finish. ($17)

(90) Truett Hurst Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley 2014 (California). Radiant aromas and flavors of stone fruit, citrus, and honeysuckle; an energetic mid palate weaves the various components together for a lovely finish that is both long and vibrant. ($30)

(90) Tuck Beckstoffer ‘75 Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (California). This light and pretty sauvignon blanc offers just the right combination of fruit and crispness. A perfect cocktail wine or to start off your first course salad with. ($14)

(90) Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Chile). Crisp and lemony, medium body.  Affordable complement for a plate of oysters. Easy-open screw cap. ($9)

(90) Wente Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). A brilliant pale straw in the glass, the nose is a wonderful combination of tropical, and citrus fruits, with a hint of yellow berry fruit. The palate reflects this, with a touch of melon, and refreshing acidity. ($15)

(89) 75 Wine Company Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (California). Subtle grapefruit notes with hints of blood orange. Floral aromas of fresh roses. Great value for the money. ($24 )   

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