Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Dan Berger: Savignon Blanc

       One of the world's greatest grapes, sauvignon blanc, has suffered enough indignities over the years to qualify as a survivor -- though the accolades it has received recently make it seem as if it's always been a star.

        In fact, the history of this variety is so checkered that most of today's younger wine buyers would never guess what crises it faced. Today it's widely seen as a go-to grape, a patio sipper best on hot days to cool the brow and great with lighter food.

        In its most classic form, in France's eastern Loire Valley, it's one of the more challenging varieties to understand. At its best, it requires lots of bottle aging!

        Since most white wines are best consumed young, some people might suspect that older versions of sauvignon blancs are strange. But when they're from France's Pouilly-Fume or its neighbor, Sancerre, this wine can be startlingly complex.

        That's not the way most Americans think of it. Some see sauvignon blanc as a simple quaff, probably best exemplified by the $8 to $15 versions we see from New Zealand. They're often slightly sweet to offset high acidity.    
        Decades ago, in Northern California, winemakers considered it to be a simple chardonnay alternative. It didn't sell that well, partially because the word "sauvignon" wasn't easy to pronounce.

        The word Fume came from the fanciful "Blanc Fume" that had been used in France. The name Fume Blanc here, widely used first in the late 1960s by Robert Mondavi, initially was met with confusion. Some thought it represented a different style of wine than sauvignon blanc. 

        But they're the same thing, which led the federal government to require that all wines designated "Fume Blanc" also carry "sauvignon blanc" on the label.

        After Mondavi adopted "Fume," David Stare, the founder of Dry Creek Vineyards in Sonoma County, began using the name as well in 1972 and it soon was widely accepted.

        But sauvignon blanc remained a clear second-tier wine. Most wineries' chardonnays clearly were No. 1, and everyone made one. And for a time in the 1980s and early 1990s, there was much disparagement of sauvignon blanc.

        Cool to cold regions such as Monterey County often produced sauvignon blancs with curious if not odd aromatics, such as cilantro, green pepper and even canned asparagus.

        This was related to a natural compound called pyrazine. When the grape is farmed in the wrong way or in the wrong climates, its natural herbaceous qualities can become so strange that Americans dislike it.

        However, when the wine comes from vines that are extremely carefully tended to deal with the strong herbal scent, the wine can be fascinating.

        Even some of the Loire Valley's most impressive wines have traces of the pyrazine component, and purists simply adore it. But in Monterey County 35 years ago, grape growers had yet to discover the best ways of growing the variety, and some of those wines were widely disparaged for being "green" or leafy.

        It wasn't until the mid-1990s when New Zealand's first sauvignon blancs began appearing here, which took the country by storm. Their aromas were so exotic that the wines began to sell well, partially as a result of how the acid and sugar worked in harmony to produce a fine sipping wine.

        Today sauvignon blanc is produced in widely different regions. With better understanding of viticultural practices, the wines are more harmonious and balanced than ever before. 

        Today, several wineries still use Fume Blanc on their primary labels. Now, a few use both names. Dry Creek also makes a wine called sauvignon blanc, as does Napa Valley's Grgich Hills (a new companion to its Fume Blanc).

        Wine of the Week: 2021 J. Lohr Sauvignon Blanc, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County, "Flume Crossing" ($18) -- Delicate mint/lime aromas replace the herbal notes of the past with excellent grapefruit and passionfruit elements and a complex, dry finish. Try with sole poached with tarragon.

        To find out more about Sonoma County resident Dan Berger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nothing's better than muscadine grapes!

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS