It’s SUMMERTIME! And I have advocated making a great Sangria for a refreshing wine beverage to cool things off.
Another way is to drink SAUVIGNON BLANC. In my opinion, this is a misunderstood varietal that has often gotten the short end of the wine glass by wine snobs and Chardonnay lovers. I know… I used to be one of those Chardonnay lovers that wouldn’t even consider a Sauvignon Blanc.
Before getting into suggesting some SAUVIGNON BLANCS to try, here is a little background on the green-skinned grape. It originated from the Bordeaux region and the Loire Valley of France. No one really knows, but the varietal probably got its name from the French words “sauvage” (wild) and “blanc” (white). Sometimes you may hear it referred to (especially in California) as Fumé Blanc.
Wine aficionados have called this wine “fresh, crisp and elegant”. And when you taste it, I think you’ll say the same. Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with fish – especially sushi – or cheese. The flavor ranges from grassy to sweetly tropical. In cooler areas, the wine can have an acidity and “green flavors” of grass, green bell peppers and some tropical fruit and floral tones. In warmer areas, the wine develops more tropical fruit, grapefruit and fruit tree tastes. Personally, I prefer that style over the heavily green flavors. Overall, I like the grapefruit, fruit tree, tropical fruit and floral notes. It is very refreshing, especially on a warm day… and if you are eating fish and/or sushi.
Another thing to note is that Sauvignon Blanc was one of the first wines to use the screw cap in large quantities. Mostly, the wine doesn’t need to be aged and can be consumed right after you buy it. What makes it even more attractive is that you can buy many great Sauvignon Blancs for about $20 or less. However, if you’re out to taste the most amazing Sauvignon Blanc, Rochioli from Napa makes an exquisite wine for about $35-$40 IF you can find it.
Here’s a list of some of my faves:
Hall – Napa Valley – $26
Gary Farrell – Russian River Valley – $25
Cakebread – Napa Valley – $25
Twomey – Napa Valley – $24
Star Lane – Santa Ynez Valley – $22
Peju – Napa Valley – $18
Mason – Napa County – $18
Groth – Napa Valley – $18
Whitehall Lane – Napa Valley – $18
Decoy – Napa Valley – $17
Ferrari Carano – Sonoma County – $14
Justin – Paso Robles – $12
Markham – Napa Valley – $11
In addition to trying some of these very nice wines, here is a recipe for you to consider that pairs extremely well with Sauvignon Blanc.
PAN SEARED HALIBUT IN BEURRE BLANC WITH BABY BOK CHOY
(By Chef Alex Espinoza)
1 lb Halibut fillet
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
coarse sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 bunches of baby bok choy, cleaned with ends trimmed
1 tablespoon water
2 cups Sauvignon Blanc
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
4 oz. cold, unsalted butter, cut in thin slices
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Cut halibut into two pieces, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium size non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once pan is hot, add bok choy and stir to evenly coat with oil. Cook for 2 minutes. Add water, cover pan and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove bok choy from pan and set aside on a warmed platter.
Combine wine, lemon juice and shallots in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, decrease heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced by ¾. Add three slices of butter, whisking constantly over low hear. Gradually add a few more slices while continuing to whisk. Continue to whisk over low heat incorporating all the butter, and then stir in the tarragon. Salt to taste and set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium size non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once pan is hot, add fish. For a 2 inch fillet, cook halibut 5 minutes on each side, until it’s opaque and starts to flake. (If fish is 1 inch thick, then reduce cooking time by one half.) Place halibut over bok choy, drizzle with warm beurre blanc. Serves two people.
Serve with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Bon Appetit!
Instead of halibut, I used Seabass. Instead of bok choy, I used spinach. Instead of tarragon, I used rosemary. I didn’t add all of the butter to the sauce, as that would be too rich for my taste. The results were spectacular…
Summer’s almost over… So get in some Sauvignon Blanc over the next month or so.
From Laurent : “Steve’s article inspired me so much, I was suddenly craving Sauvignon Blanc. Because my culinary skills are far below average, I didn’t attempt to make Steve’s wonderful recipe, but rather ordered sushi (I admit shamelessly) knowing fair well that I had the perfect wine to go with it. I opened a bottle of Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was everything I expected and more. It paired wonderfully well with the food, and even better with the warm summer evening during which it was enjoyed.”
“The sun had already set behind the mountains, and the sky had been drained of color. The trellises of sauvignon blanc flowed down the hill in even rows toward the valley floor. Whatever I was looking for, it wasn’t outside. As far as I could tell, the grapes were minding their own business.” ― Frederick Weisel (storyteller & novelist)