Which Winery

California Sauvignon Blanc

by Jyll Jara, WSET II

The history of California Sauvignon Blanc dates back to the 1880’s, when cuttings were brought from the vineyard of France’s famous Chateau d’Yquem and planted in the Livermore Valley. Sauvignon Blanc is believed to have originated several centuries ago in France, from the Bordeaux and Loire regions. The varietal had failed to find an audience in California until the 1960’s, when wine legend Robert Mondavi changed the name Sauvignon Blanc to “Fumé Blanc,” as an allusion to the famous “Pouilly Fumé” of France. This shrewd marketing strategy proved successful, and helped launch the success of Sauvignon Blanc throughout CA. To this day, Mondavi and many CA wineries still use the name Fumé Blanc as a term to characterize their style of wine. Currently, there are over 15,000 acres of Sauvignon Blanc planted throughout California.

The ripeness achieved in California Sauvignon Blanc notably lends lovely tropical and grapefruit notes. The best examples provide an edgy, refreshing and acidic value; making it an ultimate food pairing wine. Some winemakers have experimented with barrel fermentation, however, too much oak and manipulation can lead to the wines being too heavy and flat. California Sauvignon Blanc may be enjoyed on a hot day as a refreshing stand-alone wine; however it really shines as a complement to seafood, goat cheese, poultry, citrus fruit, herbs such as basil and rosemary, and mildly spiced ethnic dishes.


Spottswoode, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa/Sonoma County 2013

Lime zest and lemon, following with melon, peach, pear and vanilla. Finishing with hints of meringue and citrus. Good acidity & balance

green curry chicken with basil.


Ousterhout, Sauvignon Blanc, Alexander Valley, 2011

Candied citrus, grapefruit, lemon peel and a touch of herbs. Medium intensity, finishing with grapefruit, honeydew and a faint touch of vanilla.

thai prawn mango salad.


Chalk Hill, “Clone 378”, Sauvignon Blanc, Chalk Hill, Napa Valley 2012

Nectarine, lime and mango and lemon blossoms. Rounded texture, yet finishing refreshingly crisp.

lime cilantro coleslaw


The Ojai Vineyard, “McGinley Vineyard”, Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez, 2011

Bouquet of pear, lemon, herbs and minerals. Impressively fresh and precise. Dry finish with notes of candied lemon and honeysuckle.

chimichurri halibut tacos.


Beckman “Estate”, Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, 2013

Ripe stone fruit with fine minerality. Grassy undertones, with nice body & acidity.

papaya and goat cheese salad with lime dressing


Merryvale, “Starmont”, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, 2013

Fresh aroma of grapefruit, melon and lime leaf. Medium weight with nice acidity. Finishing with citrus, melon and fresh hay.

spring panzanella with asparagus.





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