By Rick Riozza

The hot weather strikes fast in our desert wine community, so the time is nigh to grab some tasty and revitalizing Sauvignon Blanc.   And while you’re reaching for a bottle of that tingling wine, does the title of this article qualify as a tongue-twister?—say it fast 5 times for the answer.

But no one is focusing on tongue locutions when it comes time for some fresh, bracing, zesty white wine for our foodie crowd that yearns for healthy salads, seafood, cheese, crudités, chicken or any dish that we desire lively, light, and satisfying.  Just bring on one of the most stimulating and invigorating wines around town.

That’s certainly the taste profile for the original white Loire and Bordeaux grape, Sauvignon Blanc.  Piercingly aromatic, extremely refreshing, and unlike most world class varietals, it is best drunk relatively young.

In California, the Sauv Blanc has taken to our terrior like love and marriage.  So many beautiful round fruit flavors that either complement or soften the firm acidity of the grape.

In Bordeaux, it’s blended with Sémillon to give the world its famed “white Bordeaux”.  In  the Loire Valley, you’ve heard of Sancerre with the classic pairing of goat cheese, and, the famed Pouilly-Fumé (not to be confused with Pouilly Fuissé—which is a Chardonnay from south Burgundy that so many “cat” ladies back in the day would order by stating:  “I’ll have the ‘fussy pussy’”).  But getting back to the Sauv Blanc, the “New Zealand style” is competing on the world stage and definitely one to regard.

Of course the buzz here is that clean air, pristine waters, and a maritime climate with generous amounts of sunshine make New Zealand an exceptional wine producing country.  The Pinot Noir here is a real up and comer, as we’ve written before—in a few years N.Z. pinot will be on the tongues of many aficionados.

But the flavor profile of Sauv Blanc in New Zealand cannot be ignored nor can it be replicated anywhere else in the world.  Fresh, vivid, zesty, and bracing with aromas and tastes of “green flavors” of limes, grass, gooseberry, asparagus, crisp green bell peppers, and garden fresh Mexican green chilies—such as jalapeños. And add sometimes some tropical fruit notes, such as guavas, passion fruit and pineapple.

I can’t imagine anyone in our desert not having a bottle or two chilled up for any refreshment emergency at any time of the day.  For those wine lovers who hate white wine (oxymoronic?), I guess they’re enjoying a nice cold brew or having lemonade with their kids. (Hey! No hateful emails please!—just having fun; “drink the wine you like & like the wine you drink”—Robt. Mondavi)

A couple of easy recommendations of N.Z. Sauv Blanc that I figuratively see fly out the door at Pavilions is the Nobilo.  Nope—it’s not Italian, but rather from New Zealand—with a Croatian heritage of sorts, that is pronounced way down under as “NŏB-eh-Loe”. The Nobilo—Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc and its big brother Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc.

With 300 hundred years of winemaking tradition, the Croatian Nikola Nobilo came to New Zealand in 1936 to help begin a Sauv Blanc dynasty down-under. In 1994, Nikola was awarded an Order of the British Empire medal for his contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

The 2014 Nobilo Regional Collection is produced from 2 especial vineyards in the famed Marlborough wine country of N.Z.  The Awatere vineyard provides citrus and herb flavors, where the Wairau brings on the passion fruit and grapefruit.  Its aroma carries herbaceous notes of freshly cut grass along with pineapple, melon, passion fruit and hints of grapefruit. The wine’s palate is fresh and crisp with zesty flavors of ripe tropical fruit, especially passion fruit and pineapple.

I just had some for lunch and it’s a really juicy white wine—not particularly dry,  with light flinty minerality.  This is the one to have around the house chilled as an apéritif for those searing hot days and a great accompaniment for all light meals.  Sells for around $11 and under.

Winemaker David Edmonds says of the 2014 Nobilo Icon, “this is the pinnacle of Nobilo winemaking, it’s our flagship, and the best we can make from four special vineyards in Marlborough.  The fermentation was cool for a prolonged period, utilizing a variety of yeasts known to accentuate a complex array of aromas and flavors.”

The 2014 vintage was a bit warmer than usual.  This brought out ripe kaffir lime and banana aromas that added and complemented the classic fresh herb, lime leaf, and green chili pepper tones of the wine in the usual cooler vintages.

Again due to the warm vintage, the palate is vigorous yet elegant.  It’s very reminiscent of splendid white Bordeaux with white currants, fresh herb, and citrus flavors balanced by a great line of acidity and wet stone minerality.  At around $20 a bottle, a real treat and pleasure that screams out for pan-seared seafood with fresh asparagus.

Last week, April 24th ,  marked the Sixth Annual International Sauvignon Blanc Day where the world waxed green and citrusy.  But hold on! It appears that May 15th and/or May16th is also set for yet another Int’l Sauv Blanc Day!!  I guess with all the variant Sauv Blanc styles going on—we need the extra days!

Refreshing Cheers to that!

Rick is your somm-about town entertaining and conducting at wine events and tastings. Contact winespectrum@aol.com

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