Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Producers

10 Sauvignon Blanc producers you need to know about

 


And here I cheat a little, including DeLille’s Blanc even though it is about a quarter Semillon, if not more. So why include it here? Simply put, it’s one of the great white wines of the U.S., and I doubt I’ll have a better place to crow about it.

This is a classic white Bordeaux-styled wine, if in a rather powerful vein with a fine core of Semillon fruit, wrapped in a ripe blanket of Sauvignon Blanc and all knit together with judicious use of barrel ageing. It’s a detailed wine that is rich yet remarkably balanced and capable of improving for years in the cellar. Every bottle reveals new detail and food pairing opportunities. It’s a wine everyone should try.

Photo courtesy of slgwv via Flickr/cc

Cantina Terlan Sauvignon Blanc Terlano Quarz Alto Adige Italy $55

My love for Italian wine is well known, so it is something of an embarrassment to have to say that one of Italy’s great white wines is made with a ‘foreign’ grape! Of course these foreigners have a long history in many regions of Italy and the Alto Adige is one of them, adapting many French varietals to its varied hillside well over a century ago.

With so much time to learn from mistakes, it’s surprising that more of these wines do not receive greater recognition, but the difficult terrain ensures that the labor required to produce these wines and the associated costs of the wine itself keeps the market for these wines quite small. In this case, that is a shame.

Cantina Terlano/Kellerei Terlan is particularly well known for its white wines and the Quarz just might be its finest. Stunningly pure and piercing in nature, it’s a tour de force Sauvignon Blanc packed with juicy ripe fruit supported by bold minerality that allows this Sauvignon Blanc to improve in the cellar.

Photo courtesy of epeigne37 via Flickr/cc

 

François Cotat Sancerre La Grande Côte Chavignol France $55

There are few regions as closely associated with Sauvignon Blanc as Sancerre, though in general when one thinks of Sancerre one thinks of a bright, fresh, chalk-laden style of wine that delivers a refreshing citrussy mouthful of fruit. Cotat La Grande Côte is cut from an entirely different cloth.

Coming from the coolest of Cotat’s sites, this is in effect a late harvest wine. It packs incredible richness and full blown peach, melon and nuanced exotic fruit flavors on its imposing frame. Even though this is a powerful and large scaled wine, it also embodies the elegance and finesse of Sancerre, as all of Cotat’s wines do.

Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc To-Kalon I Block Napa Valley, CA $75

In a way it is fitting that Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc makes this top 10 list, after all it was the first wine bottled by the man that was to become one of the last century’s iconic figures in wine.

This, however, is not the wine that Robert Mondavi put in bottling in 1966, though it does carry on that lineage. Back then, Mondavi set out to show the wine drinking public how fine Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc could be if made in the classic Loire Valley style. Today their I-Block bottling serves as a benchmark for the heights the variety can achieve when small yields and enlightened winemaking is used. This is just delicious wine, more orange-toned than many, retaining refreshing acidity and yet offering a rich, slightly creamy and impeccably well balanced drinking experience.


 

 

Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Buisson Renard $100

Didier Dagueneau was a legendary figure in the Loire Valley for the remarkable sets of Sauvignon Blanc that are leased each year. Since his untimely passing in 2009, his son Benjamin has been in charge of the estate and he has been able to fill his father’s very large shoes.

These are iconic wines. In truth, I would have preferred to include Dagueneau’s Silex bottling here, but its price (about $135) has pushed it well beyond the means of most people. This single vineyard Buisson Renard bottling is terribly expensive as well, but it it is worth trying. It fills the mouth with fruit and herbal elements that lean to the exotic, all grounded by Pouilly-Fumé’s legendary flinty character and a finely balanced richness that carries the finish on and on.

 

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Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Producers

1.
Macari Sauvignon Blanc North Fork of Long Island Katherine's Field (2004)
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2.
Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc (2008)
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3.
Patricia Green Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Oregon (2009)
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4.
Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc Casa Silva (2011)
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5.
Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Section 94 (1994)
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6.
Delille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc Columbia Valley (2010)
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7.
Terlan Quarz Sauvignon (2005)
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8.
Cotat Francois Sancerre la Grande Cote (2006)
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9.
Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc Napa Valley Reserve To-Kalon Vineyard (1995)
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10.
Dagueneau Didier Pouilly Fumé Buisson Renard (2005)
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Comments

  • I am glad you mentioned that your list is a personal one and I am sure you are going to need a thick skin releasing one, lol :) My first reaction on this list is that I agree with your choice for Paul Cotat and Didier Dagueneau, two of France's very best Sauvignon producers. Willing to take the risk that all American's will hate me I would never ever put a single American producer in a Top Ten Sauvignon list. Coming to my own speciality, Italian wines, I understand you mention the Quarz of Cantina Terlano. However, having tasted so many Friulian Sauvignons (e.g. Vie di Roman's 2009 Piere Sauvignon) I would never put a SB from Alto Adige/Sudtirol in a Top Ten list if it means leaving out one of Friuli. Dog Point is an excellent NZ producer and also an underdog ... my choice would be a NZ SB from St. Clair Family Estate (Block 11 Snap Block or the Wairau Reserve) or from Cloudy Bay (too famous?). The same goes for SA's Mulderbosch: a quite decent producer, though they stand in the shadow of Neil Ellis or Tokara. Then again, no South American or South African SB would make it into my Top Ten SBs. You are so right mentioning that there are so many different styles of SB in the world. To each his or her own ! :)

    Jun 12, 2012 at 5:31 PM


  • Snooth User: JonDerry
    Hand of Snooth
    680446 3,187

    Interesting points Saffredi...I for one appreciate the diversity in a list like this. Also a big Neil Ellis fan here! Will have to try against the Mulderbosch.

    Jun 16, 2012 at 2:30 PM


  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 7,441

    Looking for diversity in other contexts can be a good thing. Here, when it comes to SB, I'd say in the list above only two would make my top dozen and two more might make my top two dozen. 85% *or more* of the best SBs I've had come from France (am curious why no SB-centric blend from the Graves made the list). CA might have one or two. NZ won't have any for a few more decades, since they just don't yet get it, at least as represented by their export labels. And IMHO, Cloudy Bay is far worse than Dog Point.

    Jul 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM


  • Snooth User: JonDerry
    Hand of Snooth
    680446 3,187

    Welcome back D,

    Good point about the absence of Graves, though all of these wines are less than $100.00, would be interesting to know the QPR superstar of Bordeaux white.

    Jul 17, 2012 at 1:50 PM


  • Snooth User: Foothills2
    Hand of Snooth
    791437 30

    As I curate a portfolio of wines designed for everyday enthusiasts, not collectors, I was surprised by the lack of Kiwi SB's. There's a lot more than just Cloudy Bay coming out of Marlborough - I like Saffredi's point about St. Claire, but would also add Staete Landt to that list.

    dmcker - NZ doesn't get it yet? Beg to differ. It's just a specific style emanating from the land. I prefer to appreciate it for what it is - not to encourage global producers to unify around our a single taste profile.

    Jul 18, 2012 at 7:59 PM


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