Sauvignon blanc burst onto the American wine scene about 15 years ago when New Zealand's Cloudy Bay, somewhat inexplicably, became the vin du jour. Yes, it was a lovely wine, but a wine on allocation, a wine that sommeliers held back from their list for favored customers? Perhaps a triumph of fashion over palate.
The upshot of all this was that New Zealand sauvignon blanc suddenly became widely and wildly popular, and attentive winemakers the world over scrambled to climb on this not-chardonnay bandwagon.
The result was as predictable as it was unfortunate; vast amounts of me-too sauvignon blanc—what my brother calls gooseberry juice—flooded the market.
But fear not, diligent seekers of good, inexpensive white wine; there is still plenty of simple, quaffable sauvignon blanc out there, and one of my favorites is this week's Wine of the Week, the Simi Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County 2009 ($14).
There are hints of that gooseberry grassiness but they don't jump up and bite you, so well-integrated are they into the juicy, seductive fruitiness.
The winemaker has added 5 percent sémillon to the blend, and this gives the wine more weight and accounts for its plump, rich mouthfeel without in any way compromising the sauvignon blanc's inherent crispness. This is the combination used to make the whites of Bordeaux, but rarely do the Bordelaise pull it off with such aplomb, at least at such a modest price.
When to Drink: Now
Breathing/Decanting: Not necessary
Food Pairing: Lighter seafood, shellfish, chicken, salads
Grapes: 95 percent sauvignon blanc, 5 percent sémillon
Appellation: Sonoma County
Availability: Very good