We’ve spent many late summer afternoons and early evenings sitting outside with friends, grazing through an array of hors d’ oeuvres and sipping Sauvignon Blancs before moving on to other wines with dinner. Sauvignon Blanc wines (sometimes called Fume Blanc) typically offer a balance of crisp tightness and fruity finish – a great match for cheeses, artichoke or clam dips and shell fish of all kinds. In the $8 to $15 price range, we prefer Sauvignon Blanc to most Chardonnays, which are often get cloying, fat and tropical in the low-priced offerings. Here are some of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs from the past few months, in order of preference:

Marlborough, New Zealand

Kim Crawford, $13; classic NZ nose, grapefruit, new mown hay; mid-viscosity, decent acids, balanced; long finish; good value. Even a match for more serious foods, such as a seafood risotto.

Mount Nelson, $13; citrus and grapefruit nose; mid-body, tight, crisp. Perfect with clams and mussels.

Matua, $9; classic grapefruit nose; decent acids, a little short on the finish.  Great value.

Brancott, $9; ultra herbaceous nose; balanced, fruity, almost hints of residual sugar; long finish.


St. Supery, 2007, Napa Valley, $14; herbaceous, new mown hay; mid-body, good fruit and finish, rounder Napa Valley style. Works with seafood.

Hanna, 2008, Russian River Valley, $13; light herbaceous nose, stone fruit; balanced, round, decent acids.

Kenwood, 2007, Sonoma County Reserve, $10; weedy, herbaceous nose; round, mid-viscosity, nice balance and refined finish.

Dry Creek, 2007, Sonoma County, Fume Blanc, $9; clean fruity nose, citrus; mid-viscosity, good acids, flavorful finish. Great value. Perfect with a shrimp salad.

Husch, 2007, Mendocino, $10; intense new mown hay, herbaceous; round, ripe, soft body; lower acids (?). Good value.

Firestone, 2008, Santa Ynez Valley, $11; weedy, citrus, hints of melon; tight, good acids, mid-body. A match for clams or a good clam dip.

Clos du Bois, 2008, North Coast, $8; light Sauvignon Blanc nose, citrus; decent acids and fruit; a little short. Good value.