Recently, I had a neighbor tell me she was in a wine rut. She drinks the same two New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines all the time. They are available everywhere, very affordable, and consistently deliver what she likes in wine. Thus a wine that is light-bodied, low alcohol, bone dry, and high acidity. Aromas and flavors should be herbaceous and preferably grapefruity, but other citrus flavors are fine. She is looking to expand beyond New Zealand and beyond just Sauv. Blanc. So I chose a bunch of wine that could blast her out of her comfort zone. Oh, and she likes bubbles and rosé, so throw in a couple of those as well. Then she and some of her girlfriends will gather for a tasting.
Next was my research phase. Where do they shop (so I could see what they see)? What are their favorite wines, and what is their spend per bottle? Their per bottle spend was modest, so I had my work cut out for me.
She then gathered her young mom “pod” from the neighborhood, and Gary and I set out to open the door to a world of new wine to these ladies.
Please note: Besides the general taste profile provided above, I will not provide taste profiles for the wines below. Think of this as an opportunity for you to get out of your Sauvignon Blanc rut yourself. It is time to taste something different and perhaps learn at the same time. Now I am not suggesting that you drink all these wines in one sitting; that would be crazy. Unless, of course, you also gathered up your “pod” and tasted them together. So you taste and you decide.
Attn: Sauvignon Blanc Drinkers This Is Read Worthy but Long…
…so you may want to read it over a couple of days. Just be forewarned.
Three options from France
Sauvignon Blanc is a white-wine grape from western France that is believed to have originated in Bordeaux. The Loire Valley grows the most Sauvignon Blanc in all of France, with Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé being the most significant sub-regions of the Loire. It is now widely planted all around the world.
It made sense to me that I should bring in Sauvignon Blanc from these sub-regions of France. I chose Sancerre for its prominence within the Loire Valley. I chose Tourraine for its lesser-known status within the Loire Valley. And I chose Bordeaux because it is its birthplace and because white wine from Bordeaux is not widely consumed outside France and therefore offers extraordinary values. So that is where we started.
Le Pre Vautour Sancerre 2019 Sancerre AOC, Loire, France
* 100% Sauvignon Blanc *
This is “winery direct” from Total Wine. This means that you will only find this wine at Total Wine locations. The price in Charleston is $26.99. If you do not have a Total Wine store nearby, you should be able to find Sancerre at any store that sells wine. Sancerre is the most famous of the French wine regions producing Sauvignon Blanc, and therefore it is pricy. Expect Sancerre to be a “less obvious,” more restrained profile than most New World wines from New Zealand, Australia, and the USA.
L’Arpent des Vaudons 2019 Jean-François Merieau Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine AOC, Loire, France
I chose this wine from Touraine in the Loire Valley because it is a lesser well-known region in France that makes Sauv. Blanc. Their wines are super delicious wines and at more affordable prices than Sancerre. I purchased this wine at Edmund’s Oast Exchange for $21.99. Like Sancerre, these wines will show less intensity in their flavor profile and more minerality than the New Zealand wines that my client currently drinks. So once again… similar but choices folks, choices.
Chateau Promis Entre-Deux-Mers 2018 * Entre-Deux-Mers AOC, Bordeaux, France
85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon
Before you rush out to buy a white Bordeaux, please note that Bordeaux wines (both red and white) are blends as a general rule. The three most common varieties used in these blends are Semillon, Sauv. Blanc and Muscadelle. The wines can be made from a combination of two or more designated varieties. So be sure to ask your favorite wine store to select a wine that is predominantly Sauvignon Blanc. In my search, I found this blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon. The more Semillon used in a blend will make a richer, more cellar-worthy style. So this wine was perfect for the tasting and was well-liked by most of the tasters.
I bought this wine at The Wine Shop of Charleston on Lockwood for $12.99. What did I say about affordable?! Gary and I both enjoyed this wine as well, with its excellent QPR (Quality to Price Ratio), so I picked up a few for us to enjoy.
Alternatives To Consider
Mont Gravet 2019 Côtes De Gascogne, France
How I stumbled upon this wine was from wandering the rows at The Wine Shop of Charleston. This wine was on a stack in the front of the store, and the sign with the wine’s description stated it is from 100% Colombard. So I snatched up a bottle with glee because I had not tried Colombard before so I could tick another box on my quest to taste at least 200 wine varieties. And at $9.99 a bottle, this was a no-brainer.
Upon tasting this wine, Gary was unsure if I would like it because of the predominant grapefruit flavor. I am not a huge fan of grapefruit in my wine, but it made an excellent choice to include in the tasting due to its brightness and flavor profile (and rock bottom pricing).
Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Blanco 2018 * 85% Viura and 15% Malvasía * Rioja Alavesa AOP, Spain
For Gary and me, this wine was the highlight of the search for this tasting. We had previously drunk the Ostatu Rosado (Rosé) and loved it, so when Colin at Edmund’s Oast Exchange recommended the Blanco as an option, I jumped right on it for two reasons. The first reason is that I trusted Colin as he has never steered me wrong. The second reason is the blend is 85% Viura (aka Macabeo) and 15% Malvasía. And once again, it is a new grape variety to try. (I am currently at 139 different grape varieties).
Subsequently, this wine will find a place in our white wine fridge as we both enjoyed it for very different reasons. And at $17.00 a bottle, it makes doe a great anytime wine for our household. You will find it at both Edmund’s Oast Exchange and The Wine Shop of Charleston.
Senda Verde Albariño 2018 *100% Alabariño * Rias Baixas AOP, Spain
This wine we tasted at Savi Cucina & Wine Bar during one of our monthly tastings. We have subsequently been restocking each month. Last month we bought all they had, so I hope they get more in soon. That said, I think that any bright and crisp Albariño would fit as an alternative if you can not find this brand. It would be important to ask about the profile of the wine as Albariño can be vinified into a variety of styles. You need to look for bright, crisp, citrus alternatives.
Glatzer Grüner Veltliner 2018 * 100% Grüner Veltliner * Canuntum, Austria
While Grüner Veltliner’s most popular style is a great substitute for Sauvignon Blanc with its lean, herbaceous profile with mouth-watering acidity, it is important to ask your retailer to help you choose. You will not find citrus in this wine but plenty of herbal and mineral notes as well as white pepper and orchard fruit.
I asked the Somm at The Wine Shop of Charleston to help me choose between several wines they offered. The Glatzer Grüner Veltliner 2018 was his choice as most typical. It sells for $14.99, which is at the higher end of all of their Grüner selections.
Nothing Like Sauvignon Blanc
Mixing it Up
with Other Wines
We included two more whites that did not fit the Sauv. Blanc style because I wanted to use this as a learning moment. In this section, I will also share the one rosé and the two sparkling wines we started and ended the tasting.
La Sibilla Campi Flegrei Falanghina 2018 * 100% Falanghina * Campania AOP, Italy
Falanghina is a relatively new variety for us, in that we tasted our first maybe 2 years ago. I will typically buy it when I see a new brand because I am a new and enthusiastic fan of this wine. For the curious, if you like unoaked Chardonnay, I would suggest giving this a try. You may not find the orchard flavors commonly found in Chardonnay, but this does have a mid-range of acid as well as somewhat more body. Pinot Gris/Grigio drinkers should also enjoy a Falanghina. I really enjoyed this wine but found my Sauvignon Blanc drinkers unimpressed.
We bought this wine at Edmund’s Oast Exchange for $21.00
I know, I know! It is not like Sauvignon Blanc!
J Vineyards California Pinot Grigio 2019 * 100% Pinot Grigio * California, USA
I included a Pinot Gris because I knew that a couple of tasters enjoyed it. I find many Pinot Gris/Grigio either flabby or too lean, but this is a modestly priced Gris that I also enjoy. It can be found almost anywhere and sells for $12.99 in most places. I buy it at Costco, but it is sold at World Market, Total Wine, and some grocery stores.
Vallevò Pecorino Terre di Chieti * 100% Pecorino * Abruzzo, Italy
Pecorino is a new-ish one for me. I can remember exactly when I had my first sip of a Pecorino because it was our last dinner out before Covid shut everything down in March of 2020. Again this wine has a bit more body than a Sauvignon Blanc but is just as crisp. Look for soft fruit, florals, dry herb, and minerality.
This wine was purchased at Bottles in Mount Pleasant for $10.99
Moulin de Gassac Gulheim 2019 * Grenache, Cinsault, & Carignan * Languedoc AOC, France
Any long-time reader of my blog should not be surprised to see this rosé show up on this list. This is still our go-to Tuesday rosé. It is also the bottle we pull when we have already drunk a couple of others at a long, happy hour or party. It is crisp with light red berry and citrus flavors and a kick of minerality. And did I mention affordable? Most of the tasters, when they mentioned rosé, said that they drink Whispering Angel. Whispering Angel is a good Provencal rosé, but we feel is way overpriced.
This $10.99 to $13.99 rose is half of what one pays for Whispering Angel. Sadly this wine is now “special order only” at The Wine Shop of Charleston at $11.99. However, you can find it most weeks at Whole Foods for $13.99 and Bottles in Mount Pleasant for $10.99.
Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV * 75% Pinot Noir 25% Chardonnay * New Mexico, USA
One can spend a few bucks or a lot of bucks on sparkling wine. In most cases, I find the under $20.00 per bottle to be lackluster and uninteresting, which can be perfect for a mimosa. But when I want a sparkler, and I am not flush with cash, I will always grab a Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV. Given that it is mostly made from Pinot Noir grapes, it will have much more body and weight than a traditional blend or a blanc de Blanc. And for my palate, this generally beats any Processco at this price point.
This wine is a bit harder to locate in that it is the most expensive of the three generally available Gruet bottlings available in this area. You will find Gruet Brut Rosé and Gruet Brut almost anywhere, but I have only found the Blanc de Noirs at Total Wine and sometimes at Bottles. Expect to pay $16.99.
Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace, Brut Rosé NV
100% Pinot Noir
Alsace AOC , France
In France, where most wines are named for their region and subregion and not by style or grape variety, Champagne only comes from the Champagne region. So sparkling wines from other regions within France are called Crémant d’…. region. While these sparkling wines are made using the same technique as Champagne, they require a different name since they are from outside the Champagne region. Additionally, they can also be made from grape varieties designated by the regional wine governing body.
I first tasted this sparkler at Savi Cucina and Wine Bar at the February tasting. I loved it! It is crisp and juicy. You have got to try it if you are a fan of sparkling rosé. It sells for $29.99 at Savi Cucina and Wine Bar, $25.99 at Bottles, and it was a steal at Costco for $15.79. I am guessing it a “sale” at Costco, and they may not have it anymore (at least at that price).
Whew! I know this is a ton of information. But I hope that you will find it as helpful as my new friends found at the tasting. If you are local and want to do a tasting with your friends, let me know. Perhaps we can put something together.
That is all for now.
Rick & Gary