Every year I like to mark the death of winter with a spring favorite: sauvignon blanc. Those first few days when you don't have to scrape ice off the windshield herald the end of frigid weather, but this year I'm a bit too late. After a few weeks of warmth, we dipped into freezing temps before warming back up again. Here are the panel's picks for this unpredictable spring.
2013 Fleur du Cap Sauvignon Blanc, $8.99
From the Cape Floral region near the tip of South Africa, this sauvignon blanc displays a subtle elegance in a style reminiscent of France's Sancerre. The aromas open with sweet guava and melon, with touches of flint and sage. Tropical fruit flavors mark the palate (ripe citrus, papaya, mango) complemented by spring greens and spicy green pepper. This wine is a definite bargain.
2013 Seven of Hearts Chateau Figareaux Sauvignon Blanc, $20
Washington vineyards produce some of the Northwest's best sauvignon blanc grapes, which explains why this Dundee, Ore., winery sourced the grapes for this wine from the Columbia Valley. The nose is an herb-laced mix of clover, basil and tropical fruit. The flavors are a rich and round mix of peach, pear and melon, while the persistent finish is smooth and creamy.
2013 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, $15.99
New Zealand sauvignon blanc, with its pure expression of the variety, has a devoted fan base. Whitehaven, while unmistakably Kiwi, is a bit more subtle than some. Lovely lime and mandarin orange aromas lead off, colored by touches of Anaheim pepper. Grapefruit flavors, so typical of New Zealand sauv blanc, fill the mouth, while citrus zest comes through on the crisp finish that lingers nicely.