One of our favorite white wines is sauvignon blanc. After chardonnay, it’s the most popular white wine in the U.S., and with good reason.
Sauvignon blanc is widely grown in California, France and many places around the world. It’s a versatile grape. It’s high in acidity with herbaceous and citrus aromas and flavors. Usually its best when consumed young. Most often it’s aged in stainless steel, which gives it crispness.
Some of the best French examples of 100 percent sauvignon blanc come from Sancerre in the Loire Valley. Robert Mondavi of Napa Valley was innovative. He aged sauvignon blanc in oak barrels, giving it smoky aromas and flavors and labeled it “Fume blanc.” It was a big hit and has remained popular.
New Zealand, particularly the South Island area, near Marlborough produces perhaps the world’s best sauvignon blanc. The growing conditions are unique. The vineyards are the southernmost in the world. Being surrounded by ocean, they are cooled by ocean breezes. All the vineyards on South Island are within 50 miles of the ocean. During the growing season they have long, cool days of sunshine. This allows the grapes to mature slowly developing complex flavors.
The soil on much of South Island was at one time seafloor. It has a high concentration of calcium because of fossilized sea creatures and shell remains. This contributes the mineral flavor of the wine.
Try them and decide for yourself.
▪ Claude Riffault Sancerre 2013, Loire Valley, France - about $29. The grapes for this wine are grown in a limestone soil, which contributes to its chalky mineral flavor. It has a pale yellow straw color with aromas of lychee and fresh herbs giving way to crisp, concentrated flavors of quince and tropical fruit. Robert Parker rated this wine at 92 points.
▪ Hanna Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Russian River Valley, California - about $19. This vibrant wine is a pale straw color with hints of green. It has a lively nose of lemon and pineapple with pronounced flavors of guava, lime, green apple and tangerine. It’s fresh and well rounded.
▪ Better-Half Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand - about $14. This wine has a pale lime color with aromas of crisp lemon and gooseberry. It has concentrated flavors of tropical fruit, green apple, and melon with subtle notes of minerals on the finish.
Jim and Marie Oskins live in the Lake Wylie area. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monkfish with Ginger Butter Cream Sauce
1 pound monkfish fillets
1/2 cup sauvignon blanc
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice salt and pepper
In a baking dish or sauce pan, salt and pepper the monkfish fillets and cook with half of the butter in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.
In a sauce pan over medium heat combine the shallots, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, fish sauce and white wine. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, then transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
Return the mixture to the sauce pan and add the heavy cream. Bring to a simmer, and stir in the other half of the butter a bit at a time, do not burn.
Remove the fillets and add them to the cream sauce mixture along with the butter they were cooked in. Finish cooking the fillets over medium low heat, 5-10 minutes, while spooning the sauce mixture over the fish. It will be done when it flakes with a fork. You can substitute mahi-mahi or other firm bodied fish with this recipe.