Sauvignon Blanc is ubiquitous in the wine world. Ask a dozen wine lovers about their preference in the variety and you’ll get a dozen answers, including wines from New Zealand, Bordeaux, Chile, the Loire Valley, California, and beyond — all with their distinct styles.
While California’s Sauvignons don’t have the buzz of those from some of these other regions (Chardonnay is still king in California), they deserve more attention, and Wente’s 2021 “Louis Mel” Sauvignon Blanc demonstrates why.
The $18 wine is simply delicious: an easy-to-drink Sauvignon that combines refreshing acidity with generous fruit — less aggressive than the racy Sauvignons of New Zealand and Chile and more reminiscent of wines from the Loire and Bordeaux. It’s a nice combination of the styles; a Sauvignon Blanc for many palates.
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It shows aromas and tastes of stone fruits, melon, grapefruit and lemon, wet stone, and just a hint of the “grassiness” that characterizes so many Sauvignon Blancs. There’s a touch of vanilla creaminess on the long finish, but the wine is made without oak aging. The blend is 90 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 8 percent Semillon, and 2 percent Gewürztraminer.
Sauvignon Blanc is among the most versatile white wines, and Wente’s Sauvignon will match well with a range of foods, including broiled and fried fish dishes, sushi, white meats, and asparagus as they come into season.
The “Louis Mel” name on the label refers to a Frenchman who planted Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon cuttings from Bordeaux in California’s Livermore Valley in the late 19th century and whose estate was acquired by Wente in the 1930s.
Wente’s history goes back even further. It happens to be the oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery in the United States, founded in 1883 by a German immigrant, C.H. Wente, in the Livermore Valley. Beyond the winery, Wente is best known for developing the “Wente Clone” of Chardonnay, which traces its roots to Burgundy and is the source of more than 75 percent of the Chardonnay grown in California.
Wente has had quite a run.