June 2, 2008
Sauvignon Blancs Get Upstaged

Today's lunch-hour wine tasting was all about sauvignon blanc, in particular the wide range of styles in which it can be made. They came from California, South Africa, New Zealand, Chile and France, and they ranged in price from $18.50 to $70. Most were dry, but a couple were unusually sweet for the varietal. All nine were enlightening, each representing with balance and polish the varied sources of their grapes and the varied aspirations of their winemakers. The thread that tied them together was their crisp acidity, their refreshing fruitiness and their potential compatability with food. They showed with backbone and zest precisely why sauvignon blanc is so friendly at today's dinner table, which, I presume, is one point the sponsors of the tasting, officials of St. Supery Vineyards & Winery in Napa Valley, wanted to make.

Afterwards, however, a totally unrelated wine was poured, which proved so spectacular it gave me another candidate for my next update of The 10 Best Wines of the Year, So Far. It's the St. Supery 2004 Napa Valley Elu, a fleshy and mouth-filling red based largely on cabernet sauvignon but also including a substantial portion of merlot and smaller contributions of petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec. At $65 a bottle, it's dear, but it delivers enchanting aromatics, generous oak and a lush and spicy fruitiness that ranges from juicy blackberries to sunny cherries. We're more into sauvignon-blanc weather right now, but this is one wine to keep in mind for the year-end holidays, especially when you are looking for a gift for the cabernet enthusiast on your shopping list.

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