As white wines go, lively and electric sauvignon blanc makes an immediate impression. The first whiff of a well-made example instantaneously prepares you for the piercing, refreshing taste sensation that will follow.
That crisp character, which is thanks in large part to the grape variety’s naturally high acidity level, makes sauvignon blanc an incredibly successful match for many different types of food. Its crisp and uncomplicated nature make it many people’s favourite wine, or at least, something many wine lovers wouldn’t actively avoid, which is the major reason I’ve recommended three different styles this week as part of a social-distance shopping list.
These eight wines are singled out for offering value for money, as well as being flavourful to enjoy on their own or as a complement to a meal. These fresh and fragrant whites will work with simply seasoned items, such as salads or grilled chicken or fish, as well as fried dishes and entrees served with a butter, citrusy or garlicy sauce. Tabbouleh salad, salmon with dill and Thai green curries are three everyday staples of mine that sauvignon blanc turns from simple to sublime.
Basically, any of these suggested whites will work like adding a squeeze of lemon to a dish. They will bring out the flavours of the meal, while cleaning your palate between bites.
If zesty whites aren’t your taste, or you’re looking to compare, consider these two comforting reds that deliver real character and charm. The rustic and savoury Castillo de Almansa Reserva has been a long-time staple for meaty dishes, particularly grilled red meat or fish dishes, while the juicy and bright dolcetto from Moon Curser is a terrific match for roast chicken, meat-based or tomato-based pizza or pastas and more.
Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (New Zealand)
Made mainly from estate vineyards, Babich consistently offers a tasty and refreshing sauvignon blanc with riper tropical and citrus fruit notes and richer texture than many of its Marlborough neighbours. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.49 in British Columbia, $17.99 in Manitoba, $23 in Nova Scotia.
Castillo de Almansa Reserva 2015
A mix of tempranillo, mourvèdre and alicante boushcet from 45-year-old to 65-year-old vines, Castillo de Almansa Reserva is a rustic and complex wine, which offers savoury, earthy and leather notes. It’s a rich style of dry red that’s best enjoyed with a meal. Think roasts or pastas with a meat sauce. Available in Ontario at the above price ($11.85 until March 29), $15.99 in British Columbia ($14.99 until March 31), various prices in Alberta, $13.99 in Manitoba, $12.65 in Quebec, $16.56 in Nova Scotia.
Marques de Riscal Rueda 2018 (Spain)
One of the most iconic and largest volume wines made in the Rueda region of Spain, Marques de Riscal is made exclusively from the verdejo grape. This refreshingly dry white offers attractive citrus, pear and fennel aromas and flavours. With less assertive personality than sauvignon blanc, this crisp and enjoyable white is consistently enjoyable. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $17.36 in Nova Scotia, $18.29 in Newfoundland
Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio Verduzzo delle Venezie 2018 (Italy)
Masianco is a refreshingly dry white made by blending pinot grigio with verduzzo grapes, an aromatic white variety native to the Veneto, which have been partially dried to increase their sweetness and complexity. The resulting wine is a pinot grigio that has more stuffing – bolder flavour, fuller body and more character – to drink with grilled fish, seafood or white meat dishes. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia, $17.99 in Manitoba, $17.49 in Nova Scotia.
Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (New Zealand)
There’s a lot to like about this expressive and refreshing style of sauvignon blanc. Made in a bright and juicy style, with lots of vibrant fruity character, this shows nice balance and intensity without much of the polarizing herbal or grassy notes on display. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia ($17.41 until March 31), various prices in Alberta, $20.98 in Newfoundland.
Moon Curser Dolcetto 2018 (Canada)
The innovative Moon Curser winery believes the southern Okanagan wine region is a great place to grow a much wider variety of grapes than the usual suspects, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and syrah. The wisdom of that logic can be seen in this juicy and fresh red wine made from dolcetto, a black grape seldom seen outside of its native Piedmont in northwestern Italy. Made without any oak barrel influence, this offers ripe blackberry and cherry aromas and flavours, with a significant tug of tannins that dries out the finish. Drink now to 2022. Available direct, mooncurser.com.
The Ned Waihopai Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (New Zealand)
The Ned is a range of expressive and enjoyable wines made in New Zealand by Marisco Vineyards whose founder, Brent Mariss, helped launch the Oyster Bay brand before establishing the Wither Hills winery in 1994. While the pinot gris and pinot noir are consistently good, The Ned’s flagship is this sauvignon blanc. There’s classic Marlborough character here, with a zesty mix of citrus, tropical and green notes, such as dried herbs and jalapeno peppers. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $18.99 in British Columbia ($16.99 until March 31), various prices in Alberta.
Torres Vina Esmeralda 2017 (Spain)
This fresh and floral white wine is a blend of muscat and gewurztraminer made from grapes grown in the Penedes region of Catalunya, where the Torres family has been making wine for the past 150 years. An exotic wine that boasts intense aromas and flavours, this has long been a warm weather favourite. It’s slightly off-dry style and lower alcohol makes it a nice match for Asian dishes with some spice. Drink now. Available in British Columbia at the above price ($14.99 until March 31), various prices in Alberta, $14.99 in Manitoba, $14.90 in Quebec.
Plan your weekend with our Good Taste newsletter, offering wine advice and reviews, recipes, restaurant news and more. Sign up today.