What to Drink Right Now: Sauvignon Blanc


Experiencing a different Expression of Sauvignon blanc

        Sauvignon blanc is a distinctive grape. It can be fermented in a variety of ways. In the United States, using oak creates Fume blanc, which I gotta say, I really like. Then there’s the 2012 Paumanok Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest Savignon blanc, which is, as I wrote in a previous column, heavenly.

       But, the king of Sauvignon blanc is New Zealand’s Sauvignon blanc, specifically those wines from the Marlborough region. One trip to your local wine store and you can see an array of Sauvignon blancs, from this special region, all with basically the same citrusy flavor profile.

      A huge favorite among the many of the wines in the region is Kim Crawford. What many people may not realize is the actual iconic winemaker, Kim Crawford, has moved on from the company he created and has begun yet another wine company Loveblock. Loveblock has a great Pinot Noir and a spectacular Pinot Gris, if you have the chance, please try both, but back to Kim Crawford, the wine brand.

       Now at the helm of winemaking for Kim Crawford is Anthony Walkenhorst. Walkenhorst was a mentee of winemaker Kim Crawford and has been with the Kim Crawford company since 2005.    

       I suppose Walkenhorst could have progressed quietly along, producing the much-loved wine with the same success and accolades it has garnered in the past. But, thankfully for us, he created something new.

       To be honest, when I was asked to sample a $25 Sauvignon blanc, I kinda balked. My initial response was, “Why would I want to try something for $25 that I could easily buy for $15?” And, I followed with, “If this wine is so ‘special’ and worth $25, why not just make your standard wine this good?”

       Then I tried the Kim Crawford 2017 Signature Release Sauvignon blanc and it was a game changer. While it is definitely a Sauvignon Blanc, it is definitely different than the Sauvignon blancs you’ve had before.  

kim crawford bottle-signature-reserve-fizz.png

      It is a 100% Sauvignon blanc, from the Marlborough region. Is there citrus? Yes. Is it the overpoweringly dominant note? Not really. It is tempered with delicious stone fruit, like peach and tropical notes, and the flavors mix rather than blend. The most wonderful surprise is a delicious herbaceous note that is just so lovely and welcome. The finish still has enough acidity, but it too is tempered enough so that you continue to enjoy all the wonderful flavors you experienced in the front of this wine.

      Again, sorry to be burying the lede, but the herbaceousness that I found so absolutely, stand-alone, appealing, may not be appreciated by all Sauvignon blanc lovers. I can understand a regular Kim Crawford fan asking, “What is this?” So, yes, there must still be the standard brand.   

       Do I think the Signature Release is worth $25? Yes, every penny.

       I asked Walkenhorst about the difference in creating the Signature Release as compared to the standard Kim Crawford and he said it really was the selection of fruit and the blending from the blocks of fruit selected. He said there was really no difference in the fermentation. With the marked difference in taste, many, myself included, may find that hard to believe. But, there are no notes of oak or anything ese that might indicate a large departure from the vinification used in the standard Kim Crawford brand.  

      The taste difference I found was the Signature Release was far more layered and nuanced. Much better to drink and appreciate on its own, it does not need food. Though as most sommeliers will say, wine is meant to be enjoyed with food. On that note, it will compliment as many dishes as the standard Sauvignon blanc, plus perhaps more like lighter cheeses, salads and chicken, that some may find the standard Sauvignon blanc overwhelms.

       My suggestion is give the Signature Release a try. At the very least, you’ll experience a different expression of the Sauvignon blanc grape. At best, you’ll find a new wine to love.

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