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A Sauvignon from Burgundy

Summertime is the season of cool, crisp refreshing wines, perfect for afternoon picnics, trips to the beach, and evening appetizers on the deck as the sun sets. That's not to say I turn away from red wine in the summer, but unless I'm chilling a Beaujolais (like Domaine Pascal Granger, Jean Foillard, Marcel Lapierre, or Jean-Paul Thévenet) or a lighter bodied Cabernet Franc (Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Rouge is always a favorite), if the weather is warm, I tend to stick to white wines and rosé. While I've made no secret of my love for rosé in earlier posts, I abide by the motto that "life is too short for one wine," and to that effect, I often turn to whites as a change up from rosé in the summer. One of my go to summer whites is Sauvignon Blanc, mainly due to its racy, cirtus, herbaceous character. 

I'm known to try Sauvignon Blancs from all corners of the globe, mainly because I think it is fascinating to experience the different characteristics that the grape can assume in different regions. Sauvignon Blanc is native to France's Bordeaux appellation, where it is often blended with Semillon, and takes on a rounder, richer character. However, if one were to move northeast from Bordeaux towards central France, the Sauvignon Blanc grape takes on a vastly different character in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, where it is generally much leaner, with a more mineral character. California offers a broad spectrum of styles in Sauvignon Blanc, often dependent on whether it was grown in a warm or cool microclimate. New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are notoriously herbaceous and grassy, with underlying notes of grapefruit and other citrus flavors. Lastly, South Africa is another hotbed for Sauvignon Blanc, although like California, the characteristics of the wine vary depending on the microclimate. I have been known to use half of an evening's wine education class to use examples of Sauvignon Blanc from around the world to showcase the effect that climate and terroir can have on a wine.

I was pleasantly surprised this past weekend, when I discovered a Sauvignon from Saint-Bris, in Burgundy made by the Le Chablisienne wine cooperative. Located just to the southwest of Chablis, Saint-Bris is the only Burgundian appellation that allows the use of Sauvignon grapes. (In general, most white wines from Burgundy can only be made with Chardonnay grapes). I am always thrilled when I find small oddities such as this, and even more thrilled when they prove to be serious wines at a really reasonable price. Perhaps owing to its proximity to Chablis, the 2011 Le Chablisienne Sauvignon Saint-Bris, drinks very much like a Pouilly-Fume. Made from Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris with notes of lemongrass and grapefruit, lively acidity on the palate, and a hint of minerality in the finish. It makes for a great aperitif, or as a pairing with salads, white fish, or chicken dishes.

It's also a great buy, as it far outdrinks its price point. If you're interested in trying this delicious novelty out for yourself, two places I know of to get it are at Village Wine and Coffee in Shelburne, Vermont, and as part of the 2012 August BRIX Six (launching Wednesday) at BRIX Wine Shop in Boston, MA. 

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