A decade ago many California sauvignon blancs were neutral, vacuous wines, but today a young generation of winemakers has begun to accomplish amazing things with this grape. Sauvignon blanc is one of the world's most food-friendly and flexible wines, and it can adapt itself to many different styles of fermentation and cultivation. Here are some of my favorites.
Beringer 2006 Alluvium Blanc. This blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon, and a dollop of chardonnay, and even viognier in certain vintages, is a distinctive, dry, medium- to full-bodied wine. Drink it over the next one to two years, although it may last longer. $16
Spottswoode 2006 Sauvignon Blanc. A brilliant year for this varietal, continuing its nearly unbroken record of success. Sumptuous aromas of honeyed grapefruit, flowers, and melon jump from the glass. A fruit-driven effort buttressed by good acidity and an undeniable minerality, it will offer abundant pleasure over the next one to two years. $32
Araujo Estate Wines 2006 Sauvignon Blanc. An enthralling but hard-to-find wine that includes 4% viognier, which gives it terrific aromatics. Beautiful fruit dominates this medium-bodied wine, which also has loads of personality and complexity. Drink it over the next year or so. $40
Dry Stack 2006 Sauvignon Blanc Rosemary's Block. This offering from the Bennett Valley reveals a sensational nose of honeyed citrus, delicate pineapple, and lemongrass scents. The overall impression is of a honeyed ripeness and headiness with superb precision and definition. An outstanding wine. $20
Sage 2006 Sauvignon Blanc. Another brilliant wine, but again, extremely limited in availability. Amazingly ripe, rich, and zesty, with loads of melon and honeyed citrus. Medium-bodied, with terrific texture and pretty good size and richness, while overall fresh and lively, this will be a treat to drink over the next several years. $25
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.