Sauvignon Blanc Under $15

What better way to welcome spring?


While we all have a wine that represents this change of season that we are enjoying I would argue that no wines does it so completely as Sauvignon Blanc. No other white, save Chardonnay, is produced in so many places and at such compelling price points. The main difference between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, to my mind, is that for the most part Sauvignon Blanc is all about freshness while Chardonnay runs the stylistic gamut for fresh and crisp to powerful, complex and in need of cellaring.

Yes there is certainly a range of style for Sauvignon Blanc today, but those style speak more about how the fruit of the wine is expressed than some fundamental difference in structure. Sure, there are barrel aged examples, most notably from California and Bordeaux, but mostly likely those will be blends that include enough Semillion to account for that fundamental change. For varietally labelled Sauvignon Blanc we might be talking about limes, or peaches, melons, or passionfruit, but we generally are discussing the flavors of the wines in the context of a juicy, bright, modestly sized and utterly refreshing style.
New Zealand of course has , to many, come to symbolize what Sauvignon is all about. Rich with grassy notes, grapefruit and pineapple flavors layered in under passionfruit and jalapenos, it is certainly a refreshing style of Sauvignon Blanc, but it is just one face of this subtly diverse variety. This modest tasting today contained wines from around the globe, though just a single example from New Zealand, and that from Hawke’s bay not the more famous region of Marlborough. Whether by design or not this omission helps to illustrate the range of Sauvignon Blanc we have at our disposal. 
Today’s selection of wine, while modest, was certainly representative of that diversity and, somewhat surprisingly, the top pair of wines were both from South Africa, and both priced at the top of today’s price range. I sam a bit surprised not because the wines came from South Africa, I have been a long time proponent of South African wines and Sauvignon Blanc in particular, with their subtle blend of power and energy and their impressive array of flavors that ranges the gamut from herbal to mineral. The reason I was surprised was mostly due to the fact that it showed the consistency of my palate, which is always  a bit surprising. We tend to enjoy novelty and change. things that stand out focus our attention and yet, these two wines simply were gorgeous and offered the best value of the tasting.
Therein lies the lesson here. South African Sauvignon Blanc is probably not high on many people’s list of Sauvies to seek out. Market force at work dictate that with less demand these wines will garner lower prices. It’s not that these wines are per se better $15 wines, rather it’s simply that these are $20 wines that have yet to find their audience. Take advantage of this disconnect my friends. These wines will not remain underpriced forever, but today they most certainly represent one of the great buying opportunities in the Sauvignon Blanc marketplace. 
If the wines from South Africa are truly not your thing there are quite a few attractive wines that made today’s list. Each is worthy of your interest, and with the sun beginning to burn away each evening’s chilling blanket earlier each day we all know that something crisp, refreshing, and bright is destined to grace our table soon enough. Why not kick off the season with a nice Sauvy? There will be plenty of room down the road for wines that are more novel and perhaps even intellectual, like South African Chenin Blanc and Portuguese whites for example, but for these first summery days of spring there is no reason to forgo the familiar.  

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