Celebrating International Sauvignon Blanc Day

Always celebrated on the first Friday each May, this year International Sauvignon Blanc Day falls on Friday, May 1. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world and produces a beautifully aromatic white wine known for its luscious fruit notes of citrus, peach, apple, passionfruit, and herbaceous notes of bell pepper, gooseberry, and grass. Sauvignon Blanc in the glass is typically medium to medium-high in acidity, which gives it that wonderful mouthwatering refreshing quality. Where the grape grows and where the wine is produced, however, makes all the difference in the world as far as what ends up in the glass.

Very popular in France, Sauvignon Blanc is thought to have originated in the Bordeaux region. When you are enjoying a bottle of white Bordeaux, you are enjoying the Sauvignon Blanc grape, often blended with Semillion and in some sub-regions, such as Pessac-Léognan and Graves, aged in neutral oak barrels, resulting in a fuller bodied, richer style wine with aging potential. Further north in the Loire Valley of France, Sauvignon Blanc is the white grape of Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre, which can be described as crisp, fresh, and elegant in the glass.

New Zealand produces some of the most well-known Sauvignon Blancs to consumers in the United States. Unlike French versions which offer aging potential, most Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand are intended to be consumed young and fresh. These wines display intense and pungent notes of grapefruit and gooseberry, as well as distinct green flavors of cut grass, bell pepper, and passionfruit. Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand has a recognizable zing of crisp acidity, whereas their French counterparts offer a bit more richness and roundness on the palate.

When I was sourcing the wines for our portfolio at Sail to Trail WineWorks, I felt it was very important to source a Sauvignon Blanc that fell somewhere in the middle of both the French and New Zealand styles and offered the perfect balance. I looked to the Central Coast of California, and found exactly what I was looking for.

Our  Sauvignon Blanc is delightfully crisp without being overpowering. With lively notes of citrus, candied lemons, and stone fruits, this is a refreshing wine that can easily stand alone as a porch sipper. In the tasting room, this is the wine I see fly out the door more than any other, as it appeals to dry and sweet white wine lovers alike, as well as red wine lovers. Although a dry wine, the fruit is so pronounced, some might interpret that as a touch of sweetness on the palate.

I find Sauvignon Blanc one of the easiest wines to pair with food, regardless of its region of origin. With its pronounced herbaceous notes, it is a homerun when paired with foods featuring various herbs such as cilantro, basil, or mint. With its high acidity, herbed goat cheese is a perfect and effortless match. Lighter fare such as seafood and salads are fail-proof go-to pairings.

A Little Wine and Chocolate (Therapy)

I had the pleasure of meeting Pam and David Griffin, owners of Chocolate Therapy in Framingham, MA at a grand tasting just about a year ago. When I became the sommelier and EVP of Product Development at Sail to Trail WineWorks, Worcester’s only urban winery, I knew we needed to offer something unique yet irresistible alongside our flight of wines. The mind blowing truffles crafted by Chocolate Therapy immediately came to mind, and I think our customers will agree, was an excellent addition.

When you visit the Sail to Trail tasting room, you have the option of enjoying a flight of the five wines in our portfolio. In addition, we offer a customized flight of Chocolate Therapy truffles to accompany each wine. Each wine is incredible on its own, as is each chocolate truffle, but when paired together, the explosion of flavors and textures is something that cannot be accurately described in writing. You’re simply going to have to visit and try for yourself!

Sail to Trail’s 2018 Sauvignon Blanc comes from California’s Central Coast. It offers a beautifully light, refreshing mouthfeel and flavors of soft grapefruit, candied lemon, and stone fruits. I call this our “porch pounder.” Imagine that warm, sunny summer day; this is the wine you want in your glass. Typically, dry acidic white wines tend to be a bit difficult to pair with foods with high sugar content, but that wasn’t even a challenge for Chocolate Therapy. Their Limoncello truffle provides complimentary flavors of bright lemon blanketed in luxurious white chocolate. This pairing is heavenly.

Our  2017 Chardonnay comes from Yakima Valley, WA and is unoaked. This chardonnay was aged in stainless steel, so in lieu of flavors of vanilla and toast, you will enjoy aromas and flavors of pineapple and tree fruit. Bright, refreshing, clean flavors are only changed once you pair this wine with the Sweet Potato truffle. Suddenly flavors of hazelnut explode on the palate. It’s like magic!

Sail to Trail’s 2015 Zinfandel from Sonoma County, CA earned itself 88 points from Wine Spectator and is a favorite among all of our customers. You are left with no words once you pair this wine that offers juicy, ripe flavors of raspberry, blackberry, and plum with the white chocolate Raspberry Gemme truffle.

We offer two Cabernet Sauvignons at the tasting room. The first is our best seller, 2017 vintage from Yakima Valley, WA. This delicious every day cab starts with ripe red fruits and finishes with a spicy note of black pepper. When paired with The Cure (dark chocolate with cinnamon, cayenne, and bay leaf), that spicy kick is amplified and offers a fun, unique marriage of flavors.

Finally, our 2015 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla, WA, which earned 89 points from Wine Spectator. This beauty offers layers of deep red fruit, earth, leather, spice, and sweet cedar. The Aristaeus truffle offers sultry dark chocolate with cold pressed olive oil and sea salt, finishing the flight on a truly luxurious note.

Fall In Love with Wine & Chocolate class at Sail to Trail on February 12, 2020

Visit Chocolate Therapy and Sail to Trail WineWorks for more delicious info!

The Wine Lab – North Andover, MA

Scrolling through Facebook one day, I saw that a new wine bar had opened up in North Andover, which is about an hour north of me and a town I drive through all the time when I commute to work at the Traveling Vineyard corporate office. It looked like a pretty cool concept… an urban style winery that sources grapes from various places, then vinifies and bottles under their own name, The Wine Lab. I was really excited to check it out, so one beautiful fall afternoon this past weekend I took a ride up to North Andover, met up with a great friend, and got to see what The Wine Lab is all about.

The Wine Lab is located in a beautiful historic mill building that appears to be a thriving spot for local businesses. It’s a gorgeous rustic-meets-modern space with high ceilings and a large bar in the center, surrounded by many high top tables, and a cozy living room-like space with leather chairs and coffee tables. Immediately upon entering, I knew this was a place I could see myself spending many an evening with great friends.

But What About The Wine?

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I decided to order one of the wine flights on the menu called the Devil Flight. This flight consisted of three reds, then your choice of whichever wine you wanted for the fourth. I chose the Chardonnay as my fourth wine, and the three reds that came in the flight were a Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Malbec. They arrived in little test tubes, a quirky and fun way to present a flight in a place that calls itself a lab, accompanied by a large empty glass for tasting. Love the creative presentation!

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They served them in what I thought was a strange order to serve wine in: Cab Sauv, Pinot Noir, Malbec, then Chardonnay. Naturally, I tasted them in what I believe to be a more proper order and began with the Chardonnay.

Summer Day Chardonnay was a nice basic Chardonnay. No signs of significant oak, a medium weight with good acidity. The grapes are sourced from California, and the winemaking didn’t seem to be anything special. A decent, crisp white wine that would pair lovely with a variety of foods and satisfy most white wine drinkers.

I then poured the Red Dragon Pinot Noir into my glass. These grapes are sourced from Lodi, CA and displayed a bright ruby red in the glass. The texture was super smooth with very light tannins, and this wine showed a bit of tart fruit, including cranberry, pomegranate, dried strawberry, and red raspberry. It was a bit more floral than I would expect from a Pinot Noir, and more fruity than earthy or rustic. It was a nice easy drinker that would pair with a variety of lighter foods.

Next, I tried the She Drank It All Cabernet Sauvignon, also sourced from Lodi, CA. The color was almost identical to the Pinot Noir, which I found peculiar, but the flavor and texture was even more odd. Dare I say, this Cab was even lighter in flavor and body than the Pinot Noir. I’m not sure how that can even happen, especially grown in an AVA such as Lodi where you would expect much more deep fruit and heavier tannins. This wine was incredibly floral, something else I wouldn’t expect from a Cab. This showed extremely light fruit, very light tannin, little to no oak, and notes of red plum. Missing was any herbal or eucalyptus notes I’d expect from a Cab, and certainly no deep, dark fruits. It was interesting, to say the least.

Finally, I tried the Smooth Criminal Malbec, also sourced from Lodi, CA. This was my favorite of the flight. The most tannic and structured of the reds, it was still quite smooth and soft. This had deeper fruit, although still more red fruit notes than black fruit, and almost had a bubble gum character to it you’d find in a wine that has undergone carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration.

Light Bites

We decided to split a couple of light bites, so we ordered the Antipasto Skewers and the Deconstructed Beets and Buratta. These plates were fantastic! I ordered a glass of Smooth Criminal Malbec to sip on while we snacked, and it was a perfect compliment to both appetizers.

The Wine Lab is a fabulous place to visit, and I hope it thrives for years to come. The atmosphere is welcoming and spacious, the service is top notch, and the food is incredible. I personally found the wine to be average, but certainly enjoyable. I will most definitely return in the future to enjoy more Malbec and experience more options on their menu.