Between the Vines is a biweekly column on wine and winemaking in the Livermore Valley region. This column was contributed by members of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association.
Each month, Livermore Valley wine country highlights a grape varietal grown in our region. July's featured varietal is sauvignon blanc, a green-skinned grape used to make refreshing, crisp, dry white wine that is also known as fume blanc. The grape is originally from the Bordeaux region of France and is popular in California.
Livermore Valley vintners like to put their own spin on this classic varietal, with flavors that range from vibrant lemongrass and herb to tart green apple, round melon and fig.
"Sauvignon blanc has a long history of growing in the Livermore Valley, and it grows well. We chose to produce it because we wanted a refreshing white option for those hot summer days," says owner Heather McGrail, of McGrail Vineyards and Winery.
"Being known for cabernet, we are excited to offer a white Bordeaux that is refreshing and fruity for our customers. Nothing else in the world comes close to the flavors you get from sauvignon blanc. They can only be described as, well, sauvignon blanc," says fifth-generation winemaker Karl Wente, of Wente Vineyards. "The deep, gravelly soils, warm days and cook nights of the Livermore Valley are well-suited for sauvignon blanc."
Winemaker William Smyth, of Westover Winery and Vineyards notes that the varietal "can be oaked or produced in stainless steel and makes a wine that offers complexity not often found in white wines. It is a white wine that stands up and can improve with aging."
"Sauvignon blanc produces a lighter white wine than most chardonnays," says winemaker/owner Dane Stark, of Page Mill Winery. "It is leaner in fruit and body, and its predominant characteristics are fresher to the palate and love to be cold, making it an ideal summer wine and aperitif."
Livermore Valley winemakers agree that oysters are the number-one choice with sauvignon blanc. "The salty and briney character of the water are cleared perfectly on the palate by sauvignon blanc," says Stark. "The lingering short bread character is washed away once again with the splash of a sea wave and the next oyster. If you don't have oysters, try oyster crackers, Dubliner Cheddar and dried apricots." Find sauvignon blanc at these Livermore Valley wineries: Bent Creek Winery, Bodegas Aguirre Winery, Charles R Vineyards, Concannon Vineyard, Crooked Vine Winery, Cuda Ridge Wines, Dante Robere, Darcie Kent Vineyards, Fenestra Winery, Little Valley Winery, Longevity Wines, McGrail Vineyards and Winery, Mitchell Katz Winery, Murrieta's Well, Occasio Winery, Page Mill Winery, Retzlaff Estate Winery, The Steven Kent Winery, Wente Vineyards and Westover Vineyards. To learn more, visit www.LVwine.org or www.discovercaliforniawines.com.
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