As summer has come knocking hard, I thought it time to find a wine to welcome this aggressive guest. In my constant quest for white wines that are both refreshing and full of flavor, I decided to compare a couple of my favorite varietal: Sauvignon Blanc. I chose a 2012 Babich from Marlborough, New Zealand, based on my love of that region's wines, and a 2011 Fish House from Columbia Valley, Wash., for its similar price point and familiar brand.
Another common factor of these two bottles happened to be their screw caps. Considered by some to be a faux pas in wine buying, screw caps are actually functional for a few reasons, including the fact that one can enjoy wine a whole 10 seconds faster. Though not as common as cork, caps actually stand a better shot at keeping wine fresh and remove the risk of cork taint. Plus, I think it provides added convenience when bringing wine to summer functions where you may not want to tote a corkscrew or ask for one. Twist, pour, drink.
Despite all their congruent features, these two wines turned out to be quite different. Fish House played up the citrus aspects of the fruit, with shades of lemon and lime and not much else. With relatively light flavors, I immediately marked it as a starter bottle to be enjoyed prior to a meal or outing. It satisfied the refreshing factor without needing to be overly chilled. Though not a bad choice, it came off a bit bland when tasted alongside my other purchase.
The Babich had a fuller flavor even at first sip. It boasted magnified notes of minerals right away, with a long finish full of fresh-cut grass and herbaceous qualities—my favorite characteristics of Sauv Blanc. The complexities in the nose and on the tongue also contained more delicate hints of peach and tropical fruitiness. New Zealand's whites consistently impress me with these nuances all playing well together.
Overall, for a few more bucks, I much preferred the ranging layers of the Babich. It could drink well on its own, but I also can't wait to try it with a grilled artichoke or asparagus—more summertime favorites.