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The Guardian – Sauvignon sceptic ? Five wines to fall in love with

The Guardian – Pouilly Fumé Génetin Domaine Tinel-Blondelet 2021 . Pukka pouilly fumé that reminds you of the fabulous elegance of this grape at its best. Gorgeous with a crab tart.

Full article : https://www.theguardian.com/food/2023/jul/07/sauvignon-sceptic-five-wines-to-fall-in-love-with

It’s fruity and (mostly) cheap, but sometimes sauvignon blanc can full-on. Don’t abandon it, though – try one of these more nuanced examples

Fiona Beckett


Fri 7 Jul 2023 14.00 BST

How do you feel about sauvignon blanc these days? As enthusiastic as you ever were? Fed up to the back teeth with it? Or does it more depend on which sauvignon?

If you’re in the former camp, you’re now in the majority. Sauvignon is still the white wine we drink most of, and by a considerable margin: we spend twice as much on it as we do on chardonnay, according to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association’s 2023 market report. It’s not hard to see why, either. It’s cheap, or at least a lot of it is. It’s not sharp or overly acidic. And it’s wonderfully fruity. So what’s not to like?

Well, as someone who has been in and out of love with the stuff over the years, it’s sometimes simply too much – especially the more full-on examples from New Zealand and Chile. Such a pronounced character can get monotonous, plus it doesn’t work with everything. Think what gooseberry and passion fruit go with. Not Italian food, by and large, or Middle Eastern. Mexican and Thai, on the other hand, are great – sauvignon loves chilli, lime and coriander. And, of course, you don’t have to drink it with anything. Rather, it can just be part of your wine-drinking repertoire.

If you’re a sauvignon sceptic, don’t abandon it altogether, though, particularly in these glorious summer months. Stick to more restrained examples from the Loire, say. Pay a little more for it and you’ll be rewarded by greater subtlety and finesse. I initially balked at the price of Avery’s Fine Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (£14.99, or £12.99 if you mix 12; 12%), which is more expensive than many Touraine sauvignons, but it’s actually better (and cheaper) than a lot of sancerres.

Wines that feature sauvignon as part of a blend and/or with a lick of oak also tend to be rounder and softer than pure sauvignon alone. White bordeaux, which generally includes some sémillon, is the classic case in point, but there are also good examples from Western Australia, as you’ll see from the well-priced Tesco own-label in this week’s pick. Sauvignon made with indigenous yeasts also tends to have a more nuanced character. Greywacke’s Wild Sauvignon Blanc, for example, which you’ll find for about £25 in various indies and at the Wine Society (13.5%), would be a good place to start. (It’s also more mature than most sauvignons on the market, being mainly from the 2020 and 2021 vintages.)

Finally, sauvignon is quite susceptible to vintage variation. A cooler year will bring out the green notes you find in asparagus, pea pods and green beans, while a warmer vintage has more of that passionfruit character.

Five wines for sauvignon lovers

Aldi Specially Selected Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2021 £7.49, 12%. With notes of gooseberry, citrus and green apple, this is classic Loire sauvignon blanc, and at a brilliant price.

M&S Ya’Po Sauvignon Blanc 2021/22 £6.50, 12.5%. Marks & Sparks might not be the first place you’d look for a bargain, but this bright, citrussy, crowdpleasing Chilean sauvignon would make good party and even wedding drinking.

Tesco Finest Western Australian Sauvignon Semillon 2022 £8, 12.5%. Smooth, sophisticated, white bordeaux-style blend made by the excellent Howard Park Wines. A total steal, too.

Pouilly Fumé Génetin Domaine Tinel-Blondelet 2021 £24.50 (or £21.95 by the case) Lea & Sandeman, 12.5%. Pukka pouilly fumé that reminds you of the fabulous elegance of this grape at its best. Gorgeous with a crab tart.

Tapi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2022 £17.99 (or £12.99 to ‘Angels’) Naked Wines, 12.5%. Exuberantly lush and packed with tropical fruit flavours. No one does this style quite like the Kiwis, though it’s admittedly a bit pricey if you’re not a Naked Wines ‘Angel’ (subscriber).