Posts Tagged Sauvignon Blanc

Sunshine wine: Four Loire bottles for perfect summer drinking

First published in The Irish Times, 6th August, 2022

I’m sure I’m not the only one who, in midwinter, dreams of being transported to France, where I can be found dozing on the banks of a slow-moving river in the shade of a tree, bottle of wine chilling in the water (attached to a string), with a picnic of locally bought cheese, salad, charcuterie, cold butter and a freshly baked baguette. The sun is shining and there is a gentle, cooling breeze.

I have come close to this idyll, mainly on holidays in the southwest of France, but for many of us it means the Loire valley. The region seems to promise gentle sunshine and memories of holidays past. The Loire is the longest river in France, just over 1,000km from its start in the Massif Centrale in southeastern France until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean in Saint-Nazaire. Grapes are grown along much of the river, providing us with a huge array of wines. Every style, from sparkling to sweet, is produced.

The white wines share a crisp, refreshing acidity and vibrant fruitiness, while most of the reds have an elegance and lightness. Both styles make for perfect summer drinking. I covered the red wines a few weeks ago. As for the white wines, I covered Muscadet in June, and the two other most widely grown varieties are Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.

Sauvignon is grown in various parts of the globe, but the Loire is its spiritual home and source of some of the finest examples. Loire Sauvignon tends to be drier, the fruit a little less exuberant, often with a brisk cleansing mineral acidity. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the best-known names and produce most of the finest wines, but Quincy, Reuilly, Coteaux du Giennois, Menetou-Salon and Touraine can also produce fine examples. Many of the less expensive versions, which can be very good value, will simply be labelled Val de Loire.

Chenin Blanc produces almost every style of wine, from sparkling through dry, semi-dry to lusciously sweet. Even the sweetest wines have a wonderful pure acidity that refreshes. While some young wines can seem a little austere, they go beautifully with food. The best wines will last and improve for decades, taking on a honeyed richness. Vouvray is the best-known name but Savennières Anjou, Saumur and Montlouis are all home to some excellent producers.

Sauvignon goes well with sushi, plainly cooked fish, goat’s cheese, herby salads, sauces such as pesto and fresh tomatoes of all kinds. Although less aromatic than Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc goes with most of the above foods, including plainly grilled fish, trout, poached salmon, and all sorts of summer salads.

And of course, both wines would be perfect for that al fresco lunch by the river.

Le Grand Cerf, Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2020

12.5%, €12.95 down from €15.95

Lightly aromatic with attractive ripe green fruits and lemon zest, finishing crisp and dry. A great summery aperitif or with lighter seafood and herby salads.

From: O’Briens

Pouilly-Fumé 2021, Domaine des Berthiers, Jean-Claude Dagueneau

13%, €20.18

A wonderful winning combination of perfectly ripe succulent green fruits and mouth-watering flinty mineral acidity. Great on its own, but even better with goat’s cheese, tomato salads or simply cooked white or oily fish. Outstanding value for money.


Sinople Chinon 2020, Cru du Chateau de Coulaine Organic

13%, €25

Deep gold colour, light with lemon zest and pears, overlaid with honey, light toast and spice. A lovely atypical complex wine that demands food. Baked salmon, chicken with lemon or roast cauliflower with tahini would be good matches.

From: Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown

Vouvray Sec 2019, Le Haut-Lieu, Domaine Huet, Biodynamic

13%, €44

A nicely floral nose; youthful green apple, quince and pear fruits with a strong mineral backbone. A subtle, complex and precise wine with wonderful balance. Enjoy now with grilled white fish and other lighter seafood dishes or keep for up to a decade.

From: 64 Wine, Glasthule; Avoca, D4, Rathcoole, Malahide; Blackrock Cellar; Deveneys, Dundrum; Grapevine, Dalkey; La Touche, Greystones; McHugh’s, D5; Mitchell & Son, IFSC, Glashtule; Neighbourhood Wine; Redmonds, D6

Posted in: Irish Times

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Les Maselles Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Val de Loire

<strong>Les Maselles Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Val de Loire</strong>

Image 5Les Maselles Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Val de Loire
€10 from O’Briens

Very attractive mild aromas of gooseberry and asparagus and plump green fruits with a lovely citrus bite. Perfect summery drinking at a very keen price.

This would make a great aperitif or party wine, or alternatively with a bowl of mussels.

I am not a big fan of inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc; I have tasted far too many sweetish, mawkish, confected wines that taste more like elderflower cordial than wine. However this was a pleasant exception. Made I suspect in Haut-Poitou, a region that produces good quality inexpensive white wines, but has the simple tag ‘Vin de Loire’.

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Fattori Sauvignon Vecchie Scuole 2015, Sauvignon delle Venezie IGT, Terrini Vulcanici

Fattori Sauvignon Vecchie Scuole 2015, Sauvignon delle Venezie IGT, Terrini Vulcanici

DSCF6691Fattori Sauvignon Vecchie Scuole 2015, Sauvignon delle Venezie IGT, Terrini Vulcanici
€19.95 from Grapevine, Dalkey.

Delicious vibrant complex dry Sauvignon Blanc, with light aromas, citrus fruit, gooseberries and a strong mineral backbone. More Loire than Marlborough.

A great aperitif, herby seafood dishes or light risottos.

I met Antonio Fattori at the Knockranny Wine Weekend in Westport earlier this year. I was tempted to pass him by, as he was offering Pinot Grigio and Soave, not wines that usually set the pulse racing. However, he proved a fascinating man, and had a number of really interesting ‘extra’ wines that he had brought along. This included two excellent single vineyard Soaves, and this wonderful Sauvignon Blanc. Antonio told me that he visited Marlborough in 1991, and was fascinated by the wines. On his return to Italy, he planted some Sauvignon; it tastes nothing like a Marlborough Sauvignon, but I think I would prefer it to most.

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Ghost Corner Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Elim, South Africa

<strong>Ghost Corner Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Elim, South Africa</strong>

Image 2Ghost Corner Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Elim, South Africa
€28 from Blackrock Cellar; Donnybrook Fair, Malahide; On the Grapevine, Dalkey

This appeared in the Irish Times a few weeks ago, but in case any of you missed it, this is a great wine from one of the leading young producers in South Africa. Normally the words Sauvignon Blanc and oak are enough to send me into despair, but with this wine it works and works brilliantly. Delicious mouthwatering peach fruits, with a wonderful creamy texture.

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Sauvignon, but not as we know it.

Sauvignon, but not as we know it.

From the Irish Times, Saturday 23rd April, 2016

It has an unmistakable pungent aroma, making it one of the easiest grapes to recognise in blind tastings. We adore it in this country, but we are merely part of a worldwide love-in of Sauvignon Blanc. Whether it comes from Marlborough in New Zealand or Chile, we just cannot get enough of it. Plantings are spreading around the world to include many warm areas unsuited to this cool climate variety.

I suspect most wine drinkers like it as much for what it isn’t as for what it is; it isn’t too high in alcohol and it isn’t aged in new oak barrels. It is usually light, fresh and full of fruit. What is not to like? Nothing obviously.

However, drinking one wine all the time can get very dull. I have pointed out a few alternatives here before. My favourite would be Riesling, but every country offers their own version of crisp ’n’ dry.

But how do you make Sauvignon more interesting? One option is to plant it in a special place as they do, on chalky Kimmeridgian and Portlandian soils, in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé; the wines tend towards racy, flinty and mineral. A second possibility is to use a few tricks in the winery, such as wild yeasts, lees stirring and oak barrels, to add layers of complexity. If done well, as Greywacke and others have done in Marlborough, the wines are well worth trying.

There is plenty of Sauvignon in Bordeaux (where it is used for both dry and sweet wines such as Sauternes), Bergerac and other parts of southwest France. Here the tradition is to blend in some Sémillon and sometimes a dash of Muscadelle. The latter gives a lovely floral aroma and the Sémillon a plumpness that develops into a delicious toastiness with age.

All of the top white wines of Bordeaux, and there are some truly great wines, are made this way, with plenty of new oak barrels being used as well.

It is one of the only times where I enjoy Sauvignon in combination with new oak. Inexpensive Bordeaux Blanc, Bergerac Sec and other Sauv/Sem blends can offer fantastic value, and far more interest than many pure Sauvignon Blancs.

Western Australia also uses the same blend to great effect. A final alternative is to make it fizzy; there are now a number of sparkling Sauvignon Blancs available. I am not yet convinced.

I give one example of each style of Sauvignon; a lovely Bordeaux blend with 30% Sémillon, then a crisp mineral terroir-driven Sauvignon from Saint Bris (actually part of Burgundy) and a barrel-fermented, wild yeast wine from one of the new stars of South Africa, David Niewoudlt.

Image 3Ch Reynier Blanc 2013, Bordeaux

Nicely aromatic with lovely plump peach fruits.

Stockists: Baggot St. Wines; Corkscrew; Honest2Goodness.

goisot copyExogyra Virgula, Sauvignon de St. Bris 2013, Domaine Goisot

Stunning, energetic wine with a crisp minerality and cool refreshing green fruits.

Stockists: McCabes; Sheridan’s; Donnybrook Fair, Donnybrook; Jus de Vine; 64wine.

Image 2Ghost Corner Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Elim, South Africa

Delicious mouthwatering peach fruits, with a creamy texture.

Stockists: Blackrock Cellar; Donnybrook Fair, Malahide; On the Grapevine, Dalkey

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Hunky Dory Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand

<strong>Hunky Dory Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand</strong>

Hunky doryHunky Dory Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand

Floral aromas, luscious fresh exotic fruits, and a dry finish.

I have written about this wine before, but if you are a fan of Marlborough Sauvignon, this is well worth buying. Made from organically grown grapes, this is a very keenly priced; originally at €18.99, I have seen it in several outlets at a bargain €15.

Available from 64wine, Glasthule; Ardkeen, Waterford; Carpenters, Castleknock; Blackrock Cellar; Gibneys, Malahide; La Touche, Greystones; No. 21, Cork; O’Driscoll’s, Cahirsiveen; The Wine Centre, Kilkenny.

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Tesco Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014, New Zealand

Tesco Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014, New Zealand


Classic Marlborough Sauvignon with lifted grassy aromas, clean green fruits with lime zest and good dry length.

A few months back, I wrote about the Lidl Cimarosa Sauvignon Blanc, which they buy from Yealands, a large single estate in Marlborough. This week I received a bottle of the Tesco own-label Marlborough Sauvignon – also supplied by Yealands. I tried the two wines against each other and they are different. The Tesco version has a bit more fruit and better length, but then it sells for €2 more. If you have both supermarkets in your home town, you can try the same taste test. If not, either will appeal to fans of Sauvignon Blanc.

Available from Tesco.

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Two Affordable Summer Wines

Joel Delaunay Sauvignon Blanc 2013

€11.99 down from €14.99 for the month of June


Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley tends to be a little lighter and less aromatic than those from New Zealand or Chile. This is not a bad thing in my book. This wine has subtle floral aromas and fresh zesty clean green fruits. Perfect to drink by itself or with salads and fish dishes, this is very gluggable summer drinking.

Stockist: O’Briens


Henri Norduc Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Pays d’Oc


I am not always a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon from the south of France; most of the time I prefer wines made from the more local Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. This however stood out in a line-up of inexpensive Cabernets from around the world. An attractive warm climate Cab with very tasty juicy ripe blackcurrant fruits and a lightly spicy finish. A real bargain at €11.

Stockists: Le Caveau, Kilkenny; Ballymaloe at Brown Thomas, Cork; The Corkscrew, Chatham St.

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