Sauvignon blanc is a chameleon grape, changing flavors greatly depending on how ripe its grapes are grown, how they are treated in the winery and a dozen other factors.
I’ve said it before and I'll say it again: Taste enough sauvignon blancs, and you will find flavors of pineapple, apricot, peach, melon, fig, kiwi, fresh-cut lawn, lemon grass, grapefruit, lime, gooseberry, celery, oregano, pencil lead and gunflint.
Here I present some varied sauvignon blancs, and I describe a few (but only a few) of the techniques growers and winemakers use to influence their flavors:
2014 Kendall-Jackson “Vintner’s Reserve” Sauvignon Blanc (91 percent sauvignon blanc, 7 percent semillon, 2 percent chardonnay): floral aromas, flavors of lemons, limes and minerals, crisp; $13.
KJ emulates a popular Bordeaux style wine by adding rich semillon grapes to tart sauvignon blanc grapes seeking a balanced wine; it seeks further complexity by also adding chardonnay grapes.
2014 Captûre Wines Sauvignon Blanc “Les Pionniers,” Lake and Sonoma counties (100 percent sauvignon blanc): hint of oak, aromas and flavors of lemons, mangos and minerals, crisp, rich fruity finish; $45.
Captûre winery seeks complexity by fermenting in stainless steel for lean crispness, then aging four months in French oak barrels, regularly stirring the lees (grape skin particles and other sediment) in the bottom of the barrel for more flavor and creaminess.
2014 Galerie “Naissance” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley (100 percent sauvignon blanc): aromas and flavors of citrus, ripe peaches and minerals, full body, long finish; $30.
Galerie uses grape clones from France’s Loire Valley seeking flavors of peaches and tropical fruit.
2014 Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand (100 percent sauvignon blanc): aromas and flavors of citrus and freshly cut grass, crisp and lightly sweet; $17.
Trinity Hill leaves a hint of sweetness for a wine that goes well with spicy Asian dishes.
2015 Mouton Cadet Sauvignon Blanc, by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Bordeaux (100 percent sauvignon blanc): light body, intense flavors of grapefruit and minerals; $12.
The winery sources its grapes from the limestone soil of Bordeaux’s Entre-Deux-Mers region seeking mineral-tinged flavors.
2015 Kaiken Premium Wines “Terroir Series” Sauvignon Blanc, Mendoza, Argentina (100 percent sauvignon blanc): aromas and flavors of lemons, apricots and minerals, crisp and lively, fruity finish; $15.
Kaiken sources grapes from 4,500 feet up in the Andes Mountains seeking intense fruit flavors and crisp fruit acids.