It’s time for the next installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time I had the great pleasure of nerding out to the Riesling grape for your benefit. This time to move on to a highly acidic wine and a great summer sipper – Sauvignon Blanc.
About the Noble Grape Challenge
Let’s refresh ourselves on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.
About Sauvignon Blanc
Like many grapes major varietals Sauvignon Blanc originally hails from France – specifically, the Loire Valley. Sauvignon Blanc is made all over France and the world but it’s real heart-home is the Loire, where it is lime-y, chalky, grassy and generally light in body with high acidity. Sometimes it can be flinty or smokey too!
If you’re a Sauv Blanc fan though you’re probably more familiar with the kind coming out of New Zealand. Higher than high acidity is one of the hallmarks of NZ Sauv Blanc. I’m talking tangy, zingy, pinch-you-in-the-back-of-the-cheeks acidity. Since NZ has a cool climate their Sauvignon Blancs tend more toward green notes (asparagus, green pepper) along with lemongrass and passionfruit. You might have also heard the term ‘cat pee’ in relation to NZ Sauvignon Blancs. Personally I use ‘gooseberry’ instead, but the principle is the same – blindingly astringent acidity. Refreshing, yes, but also something you definitely have to be in the mood for.
To be honest with you, there was a time when I was ALL. ABOUT. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Sadly (for the purposes of this post at least) that time has long since passed. I’m currently on a full-bodied white wine kick and got off the Sauvignon Blanc boat a long time ago. Sigh. The things I do for you, dear reader!
The Test Case
Today’s test case is the F Lurton Fumees Blanches (pronounced fu-MAY BLAN-nche) from France.
I opted for a French Sauvignon Blanc over one from New Zealand to try and curb the acidity – my palate just wasn’t feeling like ‘cat pee’ this week.
This wine is $13.45, which means it is either a fantastic find or something I’ll be happy to forget I tried. That, combined with the fact that the label says ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ right on it (as opposed to the more hoity toity French makers, who simply list the region or appellation and expect you to know what you’re buying) make me a little wary of the quality of this wine.
Will it be a hit or a dud? Let’s find out!
- It’s a really cool-looking bright yellow colour. My WSET teacher would want me to call it ‘straw’ so let’s go with that.
- On to the nose – OH YEAH, IT’S A SAUV BLANC. Lots of lemon and grapefruit on the nose, and some green-ness too (asparagus, fresh grass).
- Thankfully I’m not getting that tangy cheek pinchiness that comes with super high acidity. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still got a lot of acidity going on.
- There’s a slight creaminess on the nose, which I’m also appreciative of.
- The palate is surprising! I get stone fruit (apricot, peach) along with white flowers (elderflower, honeysuckle) up front, with the more typical Sauvignon Blanc flavours hanging out in the background. Interesting, and delicious!
- The creaminess carries through on the palate, which I like. I always appreciate when there’s some kind of through line.
- Both the label and LCBO write up mention a soft smokiness on this wine. I really wanted to get that from either the nose or the palate, but my senses are just not picking it up.
It’s definitely not a knock-you-in-the-face New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and for that I am happy. I have swung so far the other way in terms of my current wine preferences so I really appreciated the stone fruit and creaminess on this wine. There was no way I was going to get a full body out of this puppy – at least I had those things playing around with the mile-high acidity!
It’s not the most nuanced or complex wine I’ve ever tasted, but it’s certainly not a boring wine either. It’s varietally correct, and even though I didn’t get any of the smoke the winemaker mentioned, I would be happy to buy this wine again or even (gasp!) bring it to a dinner party.
Next time on NGC – the delicious and underrated Chenin Blanc.