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Dan Smothergill

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Variation in Sauvignon Blanc

by Dan Smothergill » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:10 pm

We all know that terroir, that deus ex machina of wine making, has truly remarkable and extensive powers. The difficulty seems to be in pinning down just what it is and how the alleged effects come about.

I was reminded of this in reading through a catalog received in the mail today from the Village Corner in Ann Arbor. An '04 Chateau Menaut, Pessac-Leognan is described as, "100% sauvignon blanc - Crisp and generous in the usual manner. Bourdeaux sauvignon, Graves sauvignon, Dubourdieu sauvignon. Not Loire sauvignon".

Similarly, '05 Chateau Haut Grand Champ Sauvignon, Bourdeaux Blanc is said to be, "Real Bordeaux sauvignon-the kind that's not so shrill as Loire".

For those in the know about such things:

Is there much consensus for such a distinction?

If so, is there any evidence that the conditions thought responsible are reasonably well understood? For example, has somewhere else in the world been identified with conditions more similar to Bordeaux than the Loire where Sauvignon Blanc is indeed more Bordeaux-like than that in the Loire?
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Randy Buckner

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Re: Variation in Sauvignon Blanc

by Randy Buckner » Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:43 pm

Good questions, Dan. I don't have enough experience with Graves/Pessac-Leognan whites to give an in-depth answer. I have not been overly impressed with the ones I have tried -- very drinkable but not my style.

I don't consider Loire SB to be "shrill." I love the bright acidity. Loire is totally different than NZ, which is more fruit forward, but I love those wines as well. I've found no CA or WA SBs that have provided near the excitement.
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Paul B.

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Re: Variation in Sauvignon Blanc

by Paul B. » Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:47 pm

It's a fascinating question that you ask, Dan. Wish I knew the answer to whether there's a Bordeaux-like terroir outside Bordeaux that would replicate that [deleted buzzword]¹ of Sauvignon Blanc. Fact is, I'm not sure!

Having said that, I do think that terroir is a pervasive phenomenon all around the world - it's just that people in general aren't used to thinking in terms of it because we've been disconnected from the source of our food in many cases. There was a phrase that I read once that proposed "the shortest distance from earth to hand to mouth" - or something along those lines. I think that this awareness of where food comes from and the factors that enable it to grow is something that we need to regain today, and not just vis-a-vis food in general, but also vis-a-vis wine.

I can say that in Ontario, the Sauvignon Blancs from the Beamsville Bench all have that glorious citrusy/grapefruit-rind raspiness to them that the Rieslings, Chardonnays and Niagara have from that same soil. It's amazing - I've experienced it first-hand.



¹ Sounds like "pair of dimes"
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: Variation in Sauvignon Blanc

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:55 pm

Paul B...I wish I could find something positive to say about SB`s from the Okanagan!! Your B Bench seems better eh. Wondering now about that La Frenz Semillon I have stashed away....On Bob McDs rec.

BTW, still waiting for that Pelham `04 reserve BN!!!
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Bill Hooper

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Re: Variation in Sauvignon Blanc

by Bill Hooper » Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:09 am

IMO, Loire Sauvignon is the only REAL Sauvignon. I like other examples from Alto Adige, NZ, South Africa and South America, but I always find myself comparing them with Pouilly-Fume, Sancerre and Quincy. What I love about Pessac-Leognan is the longevity. I like these these wines in their youth, but with 10+ years on them, they are spectacular. As far as other SB in the Graves/Pessac-Leognan style (although why go anywhere else?), I've found some Spring Mtn SB(But Where's the Semillion?) to be Graves-like. I just don't see the point. If you're looking for a Bordeaux-style wine, stick with Bordeaux!


Prost!
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Dan Smothergill

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Re: Variation in Sauvignon Blanc

by Dan Smothergill » Sat Apr 08, 2006 7:00 am

As far as other SB in the Graves/Pessac-Leognan style (although why go anywhere else?), I've found some Spring Mtn SB(But Where's the Semillion?) to be Graves-like. I just don't see the point. If you're looking for a Bordeaux-style wine, stick with Bordeaux!


I love Loire Sauvignon Blanc as well, Bill. What I was trying to get at is whether people who know about such things generally agree with the distinction made in the Village Corner catalog. So far, with only a few States reporting, the answer seems to be "no".

The other point, I probably shouldn't have raised, had to do with that old chestnut "terroir". If the conditions that bring about Bourdeaux style Sauvignon Blanc are indeed well understood, then somewhere else with similar conditions should result in similar Sauvignon Blanc. It's more about the concept of terroir than about preference.

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