WINE O’CLOCK: Sauvignon Blanc, your day has come
The old proverb insists that every dog has its day. Soon we’ll be able to say the same for wine.
There are special days for Beaujolais, Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Malbec. And today (May 1) is International Sauvignon Blanc Day.
It’s a marketing ploy, devised in New Zealand, which hardly seems necessary since Sauvignon Blanc is one of the world’s most popular white wines and New Zealand is its second biggest producer.
But they say you can’t have too much of a good thing and Sauvignon Blanc is, in the main, pretty good. It has not suffered greatly from the over-production and drop in standards that often happen when a wine becomes very poplar and demand threatens to outstrip supply.
Beware of the very cheap stuff. In Ireland, more than half the price of a bottle of wine goes to the taxman and most of this is in the form of duty, a fixed charge which is the same on a grand cru as on a bottle of plonk.
Some of the price you pay goes to a wholesaler, some goes on transport and the shop takes a cut. So if you see a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for a fiver, bear in mind that the wine maker has received a pittance for the product .
You’ll get what you pay for, or in this case what you don’t pay for. But if you splash out a little more, €10 to €15 will get you a decent bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.
It’s a crisp, dry white. In the Loire district, its French homeland, and in New Zealand, it has a lovely citrus tang. In the warmer climates of Spain, Australia and South Africa it has a slightly sweeter flavour of tropical fruits. Either way, it is excellent with fish, cheese or salads.
Not all Sauvignon Blanc has that name on the label. The grape is a major component of Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre and the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac.
Here are few examples you might like to try.
Vignobles Roussellet French Sauvignon Blanc (€7.29, Aldi)
My low-price warning doesn’t apply here. It’s a good example of the French product; dry, zesty with a citrus tang. Aldi says it goes well with smoked mackerel pâté and who am I to argue?
Graham Norton’s Own Sauvignon Blanc (€12, SuperValu)
Some very nice wines carry Norton’s name and this one is a good example of New Zealand’s output, with nice hints of apple and grapefruit.
Croix des Vents Vin de Pays Sauvignon Blanc (€12.59, Ardkeen Store, Waterford)
Another one from France with tang and aroma of grapefruit. It goes with most starters and makes a nice aperitif just by itself.
Pounamu Sauvignon Blanc (€14.95, O’Briens)
Back to New Zealand. Evelyn Fraser graduated from the famous Cloudy Bay winery and has produced this sharp and complex wine from her new base, a family-run vineyard in Marlborough’s Southern Valley.
Exquisite Collection Sancerre (€14.99, Aldi)
You’ll pay a little more for Sancerre but it’s worth it. This is Sauvignon Blanc with a smooth, classy touch.