An autumnal taste for Californian Sauvignon Blanc.
For many a wine drinker, one’s choice is as often dictated by the season as by any other factor. I know this is true for me; while I may love dry rosés, for instance, I am unlikely to drink them any time but during the summer. Likewise, I’m unlikely to drink a full-bodied Port — a favorite wintertime tipple — anytime from May through September.
However there are some wines, like Sauvignon Blanc, that just seem right any time of the year.
The great white wine grape of Bordeaux, and one of the parents (along with Cabernet Franc) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc is one of the world’s most popular and versatile white grapes. Sauvignon Blanc is used to make all sorts of wines from light-bodied and dry, to full-bodied and sweet. There are even a few winemakers in New Zealand who have started making sparkling Sauvignon Blancs. And while Sauvignon Blanc can be used to make a broad variety of wines, most Sauvignon Blanc wines have a few common characteristics: a nice level of acid, and a grassy/herbaceous element.
California has long been the source for some of the best kosher Sauvignon Blancs, and while the number of kosher Californian Sauvignon Blancs being produced may have fallen in recent years, those that are currently on the market seem to be uniformly good. So for this month’s Fruit of the vine I tasted a handful Californian Sauvignon Blancs, any of which would make a lovely addition to your autumnal table.
Hagafen’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc was made from Sauvignon Blanc Grapes grown in the Moskowite Ranch Vineyard in the eastern part of the Napa Valley. With a bright straw color, and a medium body, this refreshing wine has fruity flavors and aromas of oranges, mangos, kiwis and Meyer lemons, with hints of cucumbers, and freshly mowed grass. Well balanced, this wine should drink well until 2014 or 2015.
Score A- ($16.95, Available at Skyview Wine & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale,  548-3230)
Equally good is Covenant Wines’ new 2011 “Red C” Sauvignon Blanc. Made from grapes grown in Dry Creek Valley — a wine growing region located about an hour’s drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge — this light-to-medium-bodied, straw colored, crisp Sauvignon Blanc has an appealing aroma redolent of freshly cut hay, with elements of citrus and wild herbs. Look for flavors of lemons, apples and tangerines, with a hint of cream, and a nice level of minerals. Drink within the next three years.
Score A- ($24.99, Available at Shoppers Vineyard, 875 Bloomfield Ave., Clifton, N.J.,  916-0707)
For those seeking a sweet iteration of Californian Sauvignon Blanc, the best choice would be Hagafen’s 2010 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. This full-bodied, dark straw- to light caramel-colored wine was made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in the coastal region of Sonoma County, and left to shrivel on the vine before harvesting. Richly sweet, this wine has flavors and aromas of caramel, honey, figs and nectarines, with a note of Botrytis, and a lively hint of pepper on the finish. Drink now until 2018 and perhaps later.
Score A- ($26.95, Available at Skyview Wine & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale,  548-3230)
Whether dry or sweet, Californian Sauvignon Blancs are very food friendly. The dry wines tend to pair especially well with citrus-flavored poultry and fish dishes, while the sweet wines tend to pair well with pâtés and caramelized desserts. So the next time you are in the mood for a supple sipper, pick up a bottle of kosher Californian Sauvignon Blanc. You won’t regret it.
Please Note: Wines are scored on an ‘A’-‘F’ scale where ‘A’ is excellent, ‘B’ is good, ‘C’ is flawed, ‘D’ is very flawed, and ‘F’ is undrinkable. Prices listed reflect the price at the retailer mentioned.