While California’s Napa Valley is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays, which are the region’s two most planted varieties, many producers also make Sauvignon Blanc, which is a generally less expensive white wine than Chardonnay.
I have enjoyed Napa Sauvignon Blancs in several styles, from traditional stainless-steel fermented and aged wines reminiscent of those from France’s Loire Valley to barrel-aged examples that take on an opulence and have their place at the table, provided that the oak doesn’t steal the show.
One top example of the non-oaked style is the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc from Peju, a family-owned property founded in 1983 that now has more than 500 acres of vineyards throughout Napa Valley, focusing mainly on Bordeaux varieties.
This Sauvignon Blanc is a delicious, complex wine with notes of pear, white flowers, tropical fruit and grapefruit, with a touch of lime on the finish. It’s fresh and crisp with zingy acidity. Peju notes that the grapes are harvested at varied levels of ripeness to increase complexity and depth in the wine – and the strategy works.
Like many Sauvignons, this $25 wine is an ideal pairing for a range of fish and shellfish, sushi, and vegetable dishes; it’s also a lively and refreshing aperitif wine for drinking on its own and with a variety of appetizers. As with just about all white wines, drink it cool but not cold, which is the key to unlocking all the flavors and nuances.
On its website, Peju notes that its Sauvignon Blanc, with 6,354 cases of the 2018 produced, is its most popular white wine. With this latest release, it’s easy to understand why.