Spring has arrived! While it seemed as though our exceptionally wet winter would never end, the longer, warmer and drier days lately have given us all hope. This time of year always fills me with optimism. The vines burst forth with the first, hopeful growth of the season, the birds are building their nests and the bugs are starting to hatch and swarm. It’s as though the entire countryside is waking up and looking forward to new and productive possibilities. A crisp and aromatic white wine, such as a Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, can help to kick off the new season and boost one’s spirits.
Sauvignon Blanc is a widely planted grape, with excellent wines being produced from vineyards in France, New Zealand and Australia, South Africa, Chile and California. Here in California, some of the very best examples of this varietal come from the Dry Creek Valley, Chalk Hill, Napa Valley and Lake County. Don’t be confused when you see the term “Fume’ Blanc” on the label… Fume’ Blanc is just another name for wine made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The term was introduced decades ago by Robert Mondavi and has continued as an alternative name which several wineries have adopted.
Sauvignon Blanc wines can be produced with or without the use of oak. Those fermented and/or aged in oak barrels will show more richness and body than wines which have not been exposed to oak. Sauvignon Blanc which has been vinified in stainless steel or concrete vessels, without any oak influence, will exhibit more bright acidity and crispness. Either style will pair well with this month’s recipe which I believe can provide for an interesting comparison. I would suggest trying a bottle of each version and seeing which type you think goes best with the base recipe. Then mix things up a little by adding a dash of soy sauce to a couple of bites of the dish, then a couple of drops of rice vinegar to another couple of bites, then a little hot sauce… you get the idea. Get creative and try each new version of the food with a sip of each wine to determine which combination you like the best. Don’t be surprised if you can’t reach consensus with your fellow diners. One combination of aromas and flavors may sing to your taste buds, and may be a clunky failure to someone else’s. That’s what makes it interesting… and fun!
So pick up a couple bottles of lovely, locally grown and produced Sauvignon Blanc, play with your food a little bit, and celebrate the arrival of spring!
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or www.JamesFamilyCellars.com