Sauvignon Blanc, a Tasting

Dinners this week were paired with three lovely white wines that were crisp, refreshing, and although the same grape, very different in taste.

For dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday, I’d sauteed salmon with rice, chosen deliberately to go with a bottle of Barnard & Griffin Fumé Blanc 2006* that I’d picked up over the holidays for just under $10. It was satisfyingly crisp in the initial mouthfeel, with flavors of ripe melon and just the hint of grassiness. The melon shone through right to the end, so the finish was a little sweeter than I’d had expected – but nothing a little chill won’t mask! 😉


My friend was in the mood for a white for dinner on Friday night, so I selected a bottle of Chateau Ferrande Graves 2005 (from Bordeaux), a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. I was deciding between a bottle of Chablis (from Burgundy), but in the end went for the Chateau Ferrande partly because I was keen on comparing a different style of Sauvignon Blanc, and partly because the 2005 vintage has been hailed one of the best in recent years (Robert Parker writes in Food and Wine, “Overall, the 2005 Bordeaux have turned out brilliantly, and 2005 does appear to be one of the most singular years of the past five decades,” and later, “If wine drinkers are willing to forgo the most prestigious châteaus, they will find an ocean of high-quality 2005 wines at reasonable prices from lesser appellations and little-known subregions…”).

The wine was delicious. Chilled to just the right temperature, the wine was crisp and elagant, infinitely more restraint than the Fume Blanc I’d had earlier in the week, and definitely more so than the fruit bomb Fetzer Valley Oaks Fumé Blanc 2004 (retails for ~$10) we’d ordered to go with our sushi back in Banff on Sunday (for the record, Chuck and the others enjoyed the wine, but I thought it way too sweet for my tastes, and a little oaky at that too – I prefer the lighter, unoaked style because it feels so much more refreshing). Frustratingly, I couldn’t find much information on it online – most importantly the retail price (we paid $48 for it at the restaurant) – because I’d have loved to pick up a couple more bottles to go with dinner. It was a delightful wine to wash down with my savory plate of rabbit risotto, and I think it would be a perfect drink to have in the summer, lounging at an outdoor café while watching the rest of the world stroll by.

*Fumé Blanc is just another fancy name for Sauvignon Blanc. It was coined by marketing genius Robert Mondavi, who coined the term in 1968 in an effort to distinguish his latest dry version of sauvignon blanc from his earlier sweet ones. He derived “Fumé” from Pouilly-Fumé, one of the popular dry-styled Loire Valley wines in France. While “fumé” literally translates into “smoke,” that characteristic decribes the morning fog over Loire Valley and not the wine, which typically has herbal and vegetal (green bell pepper) aromas (and, in some New Zealand styles, a distinctive cat pee smell). For more information on the characteristics of the grape, go to Diwine Taste.


2 responses to “Sauvignon Blanc, a Tasting


    Thanks for the mention, glad to see you found B/G in Chicago!

    Rob Griffin

  2. thanks rob, it was a great wine, came highly recommended! i’d definitely stop by the vineyard for a visit if i’m ever in town!

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