Two Sauvignon Blancs NOT from New Zealand

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
October 30, 2008

67 Wines & Spirits
(carries the 2006 Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc)
179 Columbus Ave
@ 68th St
New York, NY 10023

Chamber Street Wines
148 Chamber St
(W Broadway & Greenwich St)
New York, NY 10007

These days it seems like every time we hear about Sauvignon Blanc, it’s somehow linked to New Zealand. But there are actually many styles of that we tend to forget from wine regions throughout the world.

Recently, I tasted two very different Sauv Blancs: Durbanville Hills from the Western Cape and Honig from Napa.

It took me a while to figure out what South African winemaker Martin Moore meant when he kept referring to “winter melon” to describe his 2008 (yes, they are ahead of us in their harvest) Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc (soon to be available). In Chinese cuisine, winter melon is a common vegetable used in pork soup or a refreshing juice, sweetened and served chilled. But what Moore was referring to is actually what we call honeydew melon. Less tropical than the typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is has good acidity with citrus and “winter melon” notes. I love that the back label has a little tab consumers can peel off (see above) with the name of the wine and vintage.

A week later, my meeting with Michael Honig, the president of Honig Vineyard and Winery, enlightened me on his family’s long-time focus on Sauvignon Blanc as the first grape they grew and produced in their Rutherford vineyard. This completely solar-run winery focuses on two varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon as their red and Sauvginon Blanc as their white. Their entry-level 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($16) is crisp and citrusy. For me there was also a touch of honey, which harkens back to the German root of the winery’s name: Honig. The 2.4 % Sémillion in the blend rounds off the wine, adding a bit of weight.

Both wines reminded me to explore more Sauvignon Blancs from different regions of the world.

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