02/07/07 – March Madness (Sauvignon Blanc)

By Jesse on February 5, 2007


Having completed our year-long mission to taste and discuss wines from arguably the most significant (and readily accessible) wine regions in both the United States and the world, the Young Winos now prepare to embark on a wild, unadulterated tasting spree in a series of meetings that will run the gamut from the canonical to the bizarre — everything from “The Franco-Spanish War, Part 2” to “Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Blanc” to “The LA Marathon: Which Wine Goes Best With Eating My Dust?”

First, however, we’re going address the fact that we haven’t done a varietal-by-varietal exploration since 2005, and our roster of attendees is composed of almost entirely 2006 recruits (for a glimpse of the 2005-era faces, check out www.robkim.com/youngwinos and be prepared to not recognize anyone).  Therefore, for the next six weeks, we’re going to be participating in an all-out, no-holes-barred, balls-on-the-line March Madness Varietal Event!!  This series of tastings (which will actually share very little with real March Madness besides the month of culmination) will feature single-varietal meetings of six of the most common and important grapes, three whites and three reds.  In each meeting, we’ll taste examples of the varietal from all around the world.  These tastings will not only allow us to compare how the most important grapes are represented in various regions, but will also give us an excellent point of reference when moving on to more advanced tastings that may include either these popular varietals or wines that have similar characteristics.

Here’s where it gets ridiculous.  At the end of each meeting, we’ll bring out a “blind bottle” — an example of the grape we’ve been tasting, with the label covered up.  Everyone will attempt to gauge, based on the other examples we just tried, which part of the world this bottle is from.  Points will be awarded for correct answers.  And in week seven, the meeting will consist entirely of blind bottles — our goal will be to determine which grape we’re tasting of the three whites and three reds that we’ve gone over in detail over the past six weeks.  Extra points awarded if the taster can determine the region of origin as well.  Winner gets a prize.  March Madness!!!

This week we start with Sauvignon Blanc, which was the subject of the first Young Winos meeting ever, October 4, 2005.  Four people showed up, and we were off and running.  Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most varied and dynamic whites out there.  Check out its profile on the Wine Varietal Index (very interesting list of all the world’s prominent grapes as depicted in caricature form).  If you go to a grocery store, you’ll be sure to find California Sauvignon Blanc a-plenty; they may not have too much of the worldwide stuff.  Sauvignon Blanc’s ancestral homeland is France, particularly certain appellations within the Loire region.  According to that website, the best examples of French Sauvignon Blanc are found in Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre, the wines of which are referenced as the benchmarks for Sauvignon Blancs worldwide.  The grape also does well elsewhere in France, namely Bordeaux’s Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers regions, where it is blended with Semillon.  Good examples of Sauvignon Blanc can also be found in Chile, Australia, and South Africa.  However, the region that has emerged as a world leader in innovative and excellent Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand, particularly the large appellation of Marlborough, the wines of which “can stun the uninitiated with their intensity, and may seem an altogether different wine than the traditional grassy or flinty versions.”  Please bring an example of Sauvignon Blanc from any of the regions listed above!

We’ll be meeting at Emily’s place in Hollywood.  Chill your bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from anywhere in the world, put your game face on, and we’ll see you on Wednesday at 9 PM for the first night of March Madness!