Jim Rawe: Sauvignon blancs good year round

December 12, 2012 

Although New Zealand first began producing sauvignon blanc in 1977, many believe that this country produces the finest wines of this varietal anywhere in the world. The sauvignon blanc grape makes a dry white wine that is highly aromatic and distinctively herbaceous, containing a variety of citrus and tropical flavors, as well as grass and hay.

Kim Crawford Wines was first launched in 1996, producing sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and semillon. Today the winery produces over twenty different labels using a wide variety of grapes - including riesling, gewurztraminer, pinot noir and merlot. The winery's 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is very zesty and herbal with some grapefruit and citrus overtones. This wine sells for $12 a bottle and is the perfect complement to fresh oysters on the half shell but goes well with just about any type of shellfish. Try pairing this sauvignon blanc with your favorite gourmet popcorn during your next movie night at home.

The 2011 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir is also produced with grapes from the Marlborough region. This pinot is ruby red in color and has a smoky overtone with flavors of dark cherries and fresh strawberries. It sells for $14 a bottle and is very tasty alongside a grilled flank steak that had been marinated overnight in olive oil, crushed garlic cloves, rosemary and red pepper flakes.

Since different types of shellfish are commonly served for holiday celebrations, sauvignon blanc is a great choice and there are many inexpensive offerings to choose from including the 2012 Cupcake Vine

yards and 2011 Nobilo sauvignon blancs.

Although the winery is based in Soledad, Calif., Cupcake Vineyards produces wines from at least seven different countries. As their name implies, Cupcake's philosophy and desire is to make delicious and creamy wines. The 2012 Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc is also produced using grapes that are grown in New Zealand's largest wine region, the Marlborough valley. This wine contains nicely integrated flavors of lemon and lime, and it has a zesty finish due to its acidity and it retails for only $9 a bottle.

The 2011 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc also hails from the Marlborough region of New Zealand and retails for $11 a bottle. The winery's vineyards were founded by Croatian immigrants Nikola and Zuva Nobilo in the early 1940s. In addition to sauvignon blanc, Nobilo also produces pinot noir and pinot grigio. This sauvignon blanc has the aroma of grapefruit and grass, along with flavors of lemon and the feel of grapefruit pith on the finish.

Each of these wines was bottled with a screw cap, which is also known as a Stelvin Closure. This type of closure provides an excellent seal and is most often used for white wines that are meant to be consumed at a young age, such as Sauvignon Blanc. Generally, sauvignon blancs are crisp and refreshing and are easy to drink with or without food and are quite fitting to drink by the fireplace on a cool winter day or poolside on a warm summer day.

Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at jimrawe@gmail.com.

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