Sauvignon Blanc Runs Throughout My Life
Looking back over my relationship with Sauvignon Blanc over time, I was lucky enough to have participated in many ‘milestones’ within the development of Sauvignon styles and emergence of new Sauvignon Blanc cultures globally.
Unknowingly, the first bottle of wine I bought back from the Iowa State Liquor Store in Des Moines -- to celebrate arriving at 'legal drinking age' -- was a tart-as Bordeaux Blanc blend of SB and Semillon. Fleeing post-prohibition mid-western culture, I moved to Oregon in the early 1970s. There I drank many of the earliest, innovative versions of Robert Mondavi’s varietally labeled 100% Sauvignon Blanc and his landmark ‘Fume Blanc’ wines. And more than a few of the new ‘cool climate’ SBs of Oregon which have been nearly made extinct by more lucrative Pinot Noir. It was there I tasted the classics of Loire Valley from Sancerre and Pouilly.
Relocating to the UK in the 1980s I deepened my knowledge of Loire and Bordeaux and stumbled upon the first wave of New Zealand’s wild, highly exclamatory styles in 1987. By the late 80s I observed the rebirth of Bordeaux’s modernized reaction to Californian Fume and the first of Chile and South Africa’s coastal styles, both responses to New Zealand’s heady absorption of Southern Hemisphere’s UV intense sun.
Re-basing myself to NZ to explore Australasian wine styles close up in1993, I was more than ready for the highly reductive Austrian and northern Italian Sauvignon Blanc styles that emerged in the 2000s. Over the course of the last decade I have been fortunately enough to have visited emerging ‘Sauvignon focused’ regions in Slovenia, Croatia, Rueda and Portugal. Given Sauvignon’s propensity to move forward into new frontiers of style derived from climate and place, there will be many new regions to explore in future.
The first Sauvignons I judged in competition back in 1988 pitted Loire against Bordeaux against, the sassy new kid on the block, New Zealand. NZ savvys often won back then.
Since then the Sauvignon family has grown by leaps and bounds and in 2010 the Mondial Sauvignon Blanc competition was established to promote Sauvignon globally in all of its styles and regional differences. It has been an honor as a journalist and judge to have been part of MSB's advisory group since its inception. A far greater pleasure has been in judging Sauvignons from over 25 countries around the world during the last eleven years. Each year has provided a fascinating 'snap shot' of where style and quality are globally.
Whereas the wines and their creators are the stars, I count my lucky own stars to have been on the receiving end.