In a recovering world where the working adult perpetually needs a good drink, Sauvignon Blanc is having a moment. Since working from home became less of a trend and more a reality, this crisp, dry white wine has shot up in popularity around the world — rising by 22% in sales volume in the United States in 2020, and by 13% in Italy in 2021. In The UK Wine Audit 2021, Sauvignon Blanc made it into the nation’s top 3 favorite wines and was number one in Scotland in particular.
But what’s there to love about Sauvignon Blanc? Plenty, according to Chris Urbano, Chief Sommelier and Managing Director of Winery,ph, the Philippines’ largest online wine marketplace (it has over 2,000 different bottles in its collection). “Its high acidity makes it especially food-friendly — it’s great with Thai food, for example,” Urbano says.
It’s also an easy grape to grow, which has an effect on its price tag—a bottle can range between P300 and soar to well over P3,000. “But most of all, it’s very versatile in flavor,” the sommelier adds. “It’s known for tasting grassy or herbaceous, but it can also taste like citrus, minerals, smoke, and tropical fruit. All of that depends on the winemaker and region.”
If you’re up to having a taste of the best Sauvignon Blanc available now in Metro Manila, here’s a list to get you started:
Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc
Despite being a region that’s only been producing it since the 1970s, Marlborough creates some of the most sought-after Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Known for in-your-face fruit and razor-sharp acidity, Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blanc is best represented by Greywacke’s rendition. “This is summer in a glass,” Urbano offers. “Full of peaches, pears, apples, and lemon sherbet on top of a herbal palate — and you’d expect nothing less than great from renowned pioneer Kevin Judd, who was the founding winemaker of Cloudy Bay before he went to start his own winery.”
Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc
Another entry from Marlborough, Dog Point is one of the oldest private vineyards in the region — and it also happens to be the largest certified organic vineyard in the country. Dog Point crafts a more restrained example of Sauvignon Blanc, capitalizing on citrus-like grapefruit and balancing it with jasmine and orange blossoms. “But what makes it especially interesting is the strong influence of its proximity to the sea,” offers Urbano. “It gives the Sauvignon Blanc’s aroma and palate a saline quality. Don’t knock it til you try it.”
Jean-Max Roger Sancerre Cuvée “Marnes et Caillottes”
Few places are literally synonymous with wine, but one of them is Sancerre, located in the Loire Valley, France. “You can safely assume that any wine bottle with ‘Sancerre’ on its label is Sauvignon Blanc,” says Urbano. “And it’ll probably be one that’s intensely mineral-driven.” One classic take is Jean-Max Roger’s Cuvée Marnes Et Caillottes Sancerre, which starts smoothly in the mouth with flint and grass notes and opens up into beautiful citrus. Urbano recommends this one with its traditional pairing in France: goat’s cheese.
Escudo Rojo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc
While many will know Chile for red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère, the country’s second most-planted grape is actually Sauvignon Blanc — and many that you’ll find from here are juicier and citrus-forward. “The Casablanca Valley has some great examples, the Escudo Rojo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc being one of them,” shares the sommelier. Under the winemaking heritage and expertise of the Baron Philippe de Rothschild estate, Escudo Rojo is an explosion of citrus in the mouth, but balanced well with mango and floral hints.
Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc
“Sauvignon Blanc is so closely associated with its clean, refreshing taste that it’s difficult to imagine a smokier, fuller-bodied version of it out there,” says Urbano. “But this is what happens when it’s aged in oak barrels.” Aptly named Fumé Blanc, this style is most popular in California, and is well-represented by Ferrari-Carano in Sonoma County. While this Fumé Blanc keeps its signature grassiness and lemon-lime flavors, it has a more complex smokiness. This is a wine that would go well with the char on grilled dishes.
Ferro13 Hashtag Sauvignon Blanc
“It may seem more natural to reach for Pinot Grigio or Chianti when looking for an Italian wine, but the country has a lot more to offer,” says Urbano. He goes on to say that good Sauvignon Blanc, often referred to in Italy as just Sauvignon, is one of them. Hailing from Veneto, Ferro13’s Hashtag Sauvignon makes the case for Italy’s Sauvignon with its lively citrus palate with a strong mineral backbone, as well as its creamier notes of honeydew and apple. Have a good whiff, and you may even pick up the faint scent of pepper.
Storm Wild Air Sauvignon Blanc
South Africa is not the first place people think of for wine, let alone Sauvignon Blanc. “It’s one of the world’s most underrated regions,” Urbano declares. “South Africa produces a lot of quality wines that act as a midway point between the savoriness of the Old World (Europe) and the fruitiness of the New World (everywhere else).” One good example from the Hawker Bay region is Storm Wild Air Sauvignon Blanc, a collaboration between Indigo Wines and Storm Wines that combines the brightness of tropical fruit you’d expect from a Californian Sauv Blanc with the creaminess and minerality of Sancerre.
Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
Napa Valley, California occupies a very special place in the wine world, and that’s mostly due to the iconic wineries that call it home. One of them is the pioneering Cakebread Cellars, which takes special pride in its Sauvignon Blanc: it was the first white grape variety the Cakebread family planted all the way back in 1972. It opens with vibrantly fresh grapefruit aromas introducing the zesty flavors of lemon, lime, guava, and juicy melon. Balancing out the intensity is its long finish with mineral tones. “It’s very versatile,” says Urbano, “but I’d recommend bringing out those fresh clean flavors with something simple like seasonal salad and pan-fried fish.”