Sauvignon blanc, the Bordeaux variety that is responsible for some of the most distinctive whites available, is also widely planted around the globe. It's the grape that put New Zealand wines on the map, and in France's Sancere, it results in an exceptional, somewhat expensive wine. But because of its popularity (and the fact that it is a rather vigorous vine), good sauvignon blanc doesn't have to be pricey. We decided to see what $10 or less would get you, and while there were some disappointments, we found much to like. Here are the panel's favorite inexpensive sauvignon blancs.:
2007 Arido Sauvignon Blanc, $7.99
This Argentine wine shows how sauvignon blanc can respond to different terroirs and wine-making styles. It's a lovely wine, but not what you normally expect from the grape. Opening with sweet apple and lime, just a hint of grassiness comes through after some time in the glass. Lime colors the palate along with a surprising roundness that reminded some tasters more of a lightly oaked chardonnay. The finish is long and creamy with accents of peach and pear. Good stuff--just a little out of the ordinary.
2008 Quintay Clava Sauvignon Blanc, $7.99
Classic, lean and lovely Chilean sauvignon blanc from start to finish and the panel's clear favorite. The aromas are completely varietal with green apple, grapefruit, crushed lemon and lime, light herb and fresh grass. This is a vibrant wine that's a mouthful of pleasantly tart fruit (grapefruit, peach, papaya). Nice hints of lemon zest, mineral and white pepper add a pleasant bit of complexity to the finish. A definite best buy.
2008 Yalumba Sauvignon Blanc, $9.99
Bright and sassy aromas of spicy clover and Anaheim pepper are backed by soft peach and mango. This Australian wine has a little of that herbaceousness typical of its Kiwi neighbor but on a much more subtle scale. Crisp and zesty on the palate, it's filled with bright citrus and green apple fruit. The finish is marked by lively acidity, lemon grass and lemon zest, all showing good persistence.
This week's panel: Dave Faulk, Porterhouse Meats; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Kevin Settles, Bardenay; Leslie Young, Boise Co-op Wine Shop.