.Savoring Sauvignon Blanc

It may not be everyone's favorite grape, but it's hard to beat when you're craving a crisp summer white.

I recently learned that one of my editors ranks among those
seemingly open and unbiased Wineaux who secretly harbors a strong
aversion to a certain varietal. In fact, said editor has confessed to
such a strong dislike for Sauvignon Blanc that when he recently drank
— and enjoyed — a French Sancerre, he was chagrined to
learn that Sancerres are in fact 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc.

It was just his sort that Robert Mondavi had in mind back in the
1960s, when he renamed the grape Fumé Blanc and suddenly started
doing big business with the same wine whose sales previously had been
paltry. In contrast, Cockerell Family Wine Estates of Napa proudly
bears the varietal’s name on its bottle — in fact, Sauvignon
Blanc is all they produce — but even the Cockerells have gone
Francophile in the naming of their brand: Coquerel. Made from
estate-grown Calistoga grapes, the 2008 Le Petit Coquerel Sauvignon
is hardly a bargain at $22.50, but it is
infused with the melony bouquet for which northern Napa Sauvignon
Blancs are known, with notes of tropical fruit and white peaches thrown
in for good measure and tons more melon and citrus on the palate.

The 2006 Verve Sauvignon Blanc ($10), an offering from the
East Bay’s own Aubin Cellars, is actually made from grapes grown in
Aubin’s Villa San Juliette vineyard in Paso Robles. Like Le Petit
Coquerel, it’s aged in stainless steel — the better to avoid
masking the varietal’s famous bouquet with oak — but its
pleasantly herbaceous aroma was a bit muted. Light with a bit of
sweetness on the palate, the overall impression the Verve left was of a
tart little wine that would be just the thing — though some may
call it sacrilege — to use in a white-wine spritzer. It
definitely lived up to the Central Coast’s reputation for producing
Sauvignon Blancs with strongly “grassy” flavors.

Aubin Cellars will be pouring wines from their Verve line on
Thursday, July 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Franklin Square Wine Bar, as
part of the wine bar’s $1 Thursday wine-tasting series. For $1, you can
taste everything that week’s winery has chosen to offer at the event
— and bottles can be purchased at retail prices. With Aubin
Cellars already offering some of the best-value wines produced locally
(we’ve especially liked past vintages of their Syrah and French
Columbard), the event becomes a triple threat: cheap,
locavore-friendly, and a pleasant place to drink outdoors.

Franklin Square Wine Bar is located at 2212 Broadway in Oakland.
Aubin Cellars, also based in Oakland, will be participating in the 4th
Annual Urban Wine Experience held in Jack London Square on August 8.
For more information, visit EastBayVintners.com.

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