Sauvignon-Blanc – Not Just The Usual Suspects

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(Wednesday, May 10, 2017) — Now that winter’s over and spring is upon us, it’s time to put down the heavy reds and pick up some beautiful whites.  Cue Sauvignon Blanc: one of the most popular and distinctive, of the white wine grapes.  One thinks first of the Loire Valley as its home, but Marlborough (New Zealand) has stolen much of the limelight over the last two or three decades and defined a style of assertive, tropical, gooseberry fruit-driven wines.

But top quality Sauvignon Blanc (SB) is made in some surprising places, and at some surprising wineries, and in different styles.  The line-up for our tasting showcases the global reach, and variety, of this fascinating grape.   As well as the Loire & Marlborough, our tour will also take in several iconic estates in Tuscany, Sonoma, New South Wales, Niagara, Bordeaux, and Slovenia (yes, really, but produced by a top Austrian winery).  We will be showing wines that are 100% Sauvignon Blanc, as well as blends with Semillon and various other grapes and, for comparison, a legendary 100% Semillon completes the experience.

Our tour begins, logically, in the Loire with 2013 Sancerre d’Antan, a premium cuvee by top producer Henri Bourgeois, which is grown on a flinty slope, first planted in the ‘30s.

Did you know that Ornellaia makes a white wine?   We will be pouring the 2014 Poggio Alle Gazze del’Ornellaia.  Typically a 70% SB blend, it leans towards to the Bordeaux style (see below).

To get to Italy from France you might go through Slovenia, the home of the highly regarded Colles by Weingut Gross.   We are pouring the 2013.  Commentators say that Slovenia is upping its game.  This is not Ljutomer Riesling!  See what you think.

Our next hop is a big one, all the way to Marlborough, New Zealand, for the 2011 Terravin Te Ahu.   This wine sees some oak but also has the intense fruit of NZ SB to make a distinctive combination.

Then a shorter hop, geographically, but much bigger flavour jump, to New South Wales Australia for the 2009 McWilliam Lovedale Semillon.  This should be a real treat, fully in its prime.  Richard Hemming (Purple Pages) gives it 17.5 points, saying “…delicious and distinct. Super fruit clarity – lemon curd, cream. Just slightly feral and funky too, but that adds rather than detracts interest. Exemplary”.

Staying in the New World, but the other side of the globe, our next stop is California for the Spottswoode 2013 Sauvignon Blanc.

Spottswoode, known for its superstar Napa Cabernets, produces a ripe and intense white wine from a blend of Napa and Sonoma fruit, including their St Helena Estate.  Next we head north, to Niagara, for the 2013 Creekside Sauvignon Blanc Reserve.  This wine impressed as the mystery at our Creekside tasting.  Old World or New World?  You decide!

We finish nearer to our starting point with a dry Bordeaux: the 2009 Chateau Haut-Bergey from Pessac-Léognan.  This has the classic blend of 82% Sauvignon and 18% Semillon to give a complex wine that Jancis Robinson rates 17 points and describes as quite headily floral and smoky on the nose, and long and substantial on the palate.

We are very pleased to have Wine Voyageur and author Larry Horne to act as our guide on this tour.   Larry moved to Niagara in 2005 to help start Calamus Winery. This story and many others are recounted in a book, Besotted: My love affair with wine, which wine writer, Mike Lowe calls a “light hearted, concise account of a life in which wine has played a pivotal role-a book that many wine lovers will easily relate to.”  He will also be selling and signing the book after the tasting.  For full review, go to:

Come on out for what should be a fascinating tour around the byways of Sauvignon Blanc.  Once you have mastered these first eight wines, you can then try your skill at identifying the mystery wine.

As always with our tastings, this event will be strictly non-smoking, and we request your cooperation in not wearing any scented after-shave or perfume.  Using public transit is strongly encouraged.  Please do not drink and drive.

Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Time:  6:45 p.m.
Limit:  60 people
Members: $69*
Guests: $79*

*Price including HST

North York Memorial Community Hall
5110 Yonge St. (under library)
North York Centre Subway

GST/HST account: 844742619RT0001

Business Name: Winetasters Society of Toronto

Cancellations accepted up to Monday, May 8 2017 (Jennifer Curran 905-829-4675 evenings). No reservations by phone, please. No mail confirmations will be issued — you will be contacted only if we are sold out.  First come basis. Non-members may attend at guest rates, but preference will be given to members. Registration will be closed at the end of day, May 9.