Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Sauvignon blanc finds its spiritual home in France’s Loire Valley, especially in the prestigious appellation of Sancerre. But the same chalky soils grow some terrific wines in the surrounding areas that don’t command the high prices of Sancerre (often upward of $30). Look for some terrific values labeled as Touraine. This is especially true in tricky vintages such as 2017, when frost hit most of Europe during fruit set, reducing yields and potentially affecting quality. While I’ve tasted some delicious 2017 Sancerre, the Touraines seem to be offering more for the money.
Touraine, Loire Valley, France, $15
This sauvignon blanc performs well above its common pedigree, a simple Touraine going to the fancy castle ball and wowing the crowd. I kept waiting for the clock to chime midnight and the wine to turn into pumpkin juice, but it just kept getting better. This is on the mineral side of sauvignon blanc. Alcohol by volume: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Dionysos Imports: Available in the District at Arrowine and Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean).
Loire Valley, France, $13
From chalky soils in the Loire Valley, this rich, ripe and opulent sauvignon blanc is amazingly fresh and delicious, at a tremendous price for its quality. ABV: 12 percent.
Imported and distributed by M. Touton: Available in the District at Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Circle Wine & Spirits, Eye Street Cellars, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, Safeway (Georgetown), Virginia Market, Whole Foods Market (P Street). Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork 57 Beer and Wine in Bethesda, Village Liquors of Clarksville, Eastport Liquors in Annapolis, Old Farm Liquors and Spin the Bottle Wine Co. in Frederick, Rodman’s in White Flint. Available in Virginia at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Specials Wine Seller in Kilmarnock.
Touraine, Loire Valley, France, $13
This delicious wine features the racy verve of sauvignon blanc, but in a ripe style without the aggressive grassy overtones the grape can manifest when it isn’t properly coddled. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported and distributed by Elite Wines: Widely available in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
Touraine, Loire Valley, France, $13
The citrusy side of sauvignon blanc peeks out and gives a wave with this charming wine. Chill it till it shivers, then enjoy it on the patio with some smoked fish. Summer at its best. ABV: 13 percent.
Imported and distributed by M. Touton: Available in the District at Eye Street Cellars, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Allview Liquors in Ellicott City, Old Farm Liquors and Riverside Liquors in Frederick, Roland Park Wines & Liquors in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Ballston Place Gourmet in Arlington, Leesburg Vintner in Leesburg, Vino Market in Midlothian.
Menetou-Salon, Loire Valley, France, $21
This rosé of pinot noir is intriguing. It doesn’t offer immediate, easy pleasure, but it draws you in with a bitter, citrusy character that hints of a story or two to tell. I felt like it was hiding a secret but flirting with me that I wanted to draw that secret out. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Elite Wines: Available in the District at Cork Wine Bar and Market, Sportsman’s Wine & Liquors, Zachy’s. Available in Maryland at the French Paradox Wines in Stevenson, State Line Liquors in Elkton, the Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; Branch & Vine, Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market and Richmond Wine Station in Richmond; Foods of All Nations in Charlottesville.
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.