Cheap Pinot Grigio, oaked Chardonnay and fruitbomb Sauvignon Blanc are the three banes of the popular white wine world. For my day job I regularly attend functions organised by public sector bodies who have next to no money for entertainment and, perhaps worse, no one who really cares about finding value, so I have had many an encounter with this unholy trinity. Luckily I know that all these grape varieties are capable of producing fantastic wines, although I have to admit that my relationship with Sauvignon Blanc never has been an easy one. Too often even the better wines have me on my knees begging for mercy after a broadside of pungent grassy aromas, gooseberry, intense vegetal flavours and intense blackcurrant.
On the other hand there are very nicely balanced examples too, and sometimes I just crave crisp, fruity intensity. The other day it was one of those moments and I turned to the German wine region of Franken (Franconia) to satisfy my urge.
The Luckert family are one of our go-to-producers in Franken, especially for their very reliable range of wines around €10, including our beloved Silvaner but also Pinot Blanc. They have proved to us that even the dreaded Müller-Thurgau grape can produce great wines that are for more than just blending. So I was really looking forward to try their Sauvignon Blanc - as usual for the Luckerts it is made from organic grapes, fermented with natural yeast and matured in large wooden barrels.
The screw cap was not quite off the bottle yet when the SB unleashed a fruit aroma barrage into my kitchen. A closer inspection revealed the expected grassy notes - hay and elderflower stood out - and also blackcurrant and limey citrus fruit. There was also faint stony aroma, which I like, and a faint memory of washing powder in the floweriness, which I had mixed feelings about.
And now comes the part when I have to apologise. A little.
The first glass of the Sauvignon Blanc left me a little underwhelmed. Maybe it was the washing powder aroma. Maybe I expected the Frankonian wine to blow me away as much as the truly great Sauvignon Blanc from Rebholz did a while ago. Maybe it was because I did not find much beyond the usual. And as bad news can be more exciting than average news and as I had Twitter open at the time I shared my sense of underwhelment. Now, if you know me you will be aware that I am a slow wine taster, I need time to come to terms with a wine (unless I know the style very well) and I want the wine to come to terms with me. And so I did of course not mention the producer. Which was good because, as the evening progressed, the wine opened up and started to talk. In particular the texture made itself felt more clearly, a texture to chew on, or rather to suck on, like on a herbal candy; herbal aromas also feature strongly in the finish. There is also fresh, grapefruity acidity, some of which is swallowed by the fruit and mineral flavours and the texture.
Not a revelation, perhaps, and for me at least also not a wine for every day, but when one of those moments comes up and you are prepared to give it a little time, you should find the Franconian Sauvignon Blanc to be an enjoyable guest on your dinner table. I wish people of UK public sector bodies would listen and give us something closer to this, but I am not getting my hopes up for the function coming up this Tuesday...