Sauvignon Blanc might have more recognizable aliases around the winemaking world than any other white variety. A crisp, bone-dry Sancerre from France’s Loire Valley is actually a Sauv Blanc, and so is that creamy white Bordeaux (with a splash of Sémillon). South African versions have a rep for sophistication, while New Zealand bottles are known as simple but zesty sippers. California has leaned more toward the NZ style for some time, leaving many connoisseurs to seek out other whites.
Recently, though, West Coast producers, especially in Napa and Sonoma, have been giving Sauvignon Blanc, in both the vineyard and the cellar, the degree of attention that it takes to make a head-turning wine. These nuanced and age-worthy wines are being dubbed “Super Sauvignons,” and getting snapped up by collectors looking to round out their cellars.
While there’s renewed interest in age-able whites, these high-quality Sauv Blancs aren’t entirely new for the West Coast. Napa Valley’s Spottswoode has been focusing on the grape since 1984. “It was my mom’s favorite wine,” says president Beth Novak Milliken. “Her love for the grape has always shaped our approach,” Which includes great vineyard sources (with the potential to be as expensive as any planted to Cabernet), meticulous farming, vinifying small lots in a mix of vessels (French oak, for instance, or concrete eggs), and putting in the labor to build body, structure, and age-worthiness, with regular stirring of the lees.
Vineyard stats confirm that high-end Sauvignon Blancs are trending: In the last two decades, its vine plantings in Napa County (where land isn’t cheap) have grown by about 40 percent. Milliken couldn’t be happier. “As a vintner, it’s exciting when there’s attention for a varietal you love,” she says. “Ten or 15 years ago, there weren’t many Sauvignon Blancs being made in a manner that showed this grape’s true potential. Now, I look around and see really interesting [versions].”
Here are 11 new ones that will make you pour out whatever other white wines you were drinking before.