2017 Reserva Orquidea Rosario Estate Sauvignon Blanc
This week's wine is a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc that I picked up from Trader Joe's. Sauvignon Blanc is a varietal that I think the New World does better than the Old World. While I certainly won't turn down a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France, I prefer New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, and Chilean and South African Sauvignon Blancs are also great when you're looking for something a little bit more unique and different.
This particular wine was a cheap, great value wine. It was only $5 at Trader Joe's, but after tasting it, I would have happily paid $15-20 for this bottle. When I bought this wine, I had a feeling that it was going to taste much better than its price tag suggested. It's not too difficult to get great wines at a bargain price if you know what you're looking for. If I'm looking for something cheap and delicious, the first thing I consider is location. You want to look for wines from a region not really known for that varietal. For Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand and the Loire Valley are really well known for producing great wines, so I steered clear of those regions. Those regions are like brand names for Sauvignon Blanc, so wine producers know that customers will pay a bit more for their wines because of the region, so they tend not to be bargain wines. Instead, I looked for bottles from Chile, South Africa, and Washington state. I knew that those regions produced Sauvignon Blanc, but weren't well-known for it, so even really great wines would have to be at a lower price to entice customers to give them a chance. At this point, I had it narrowed down to this $5 Chilean wine, and a $6 South African wine. A Trader Joe's employee walked by while I was mulling it over, and asked if I needed any help. He told me that he had tried both the wines that I was looking at, and that he preferred the Chilean, so I went with that. Asking for help from an employee won't work at most grocery stores, but Trader Joe's is small enough and they have a culture of caring about their wine selection, so I felt that I could trust the recommendation. I generally only buy wine at local/independent wine shops and at Trader Joe's, and I will always trust a recommendation at a local wine shop. The people who work there are so passionate about wine and really know the wines that they have in stock. You should never feel uncomfortable asking for a recommendation at a wine shop, that's what the employees are there for, to guide you in the right direction.
This process works well for finding a great value wine of any varietal, you just consider different regions. For example, I've found some really great New Zealand Pinot Noirs that were much cheaper than a French or Californian bottle of the same quality. I've also been trying a lot of medium-bodied red wines from Eastern Europe that are a great value. If you're looking for a budget friendly wine, don't be afraid to check out some of the lesser known regions. They often carry hidden gems.
This wine was one of those hidden gems. It was unique and surprising, and a really enjoyed drinking it. When I poured a glass, based on the smell, I expected it to be a tropical Sauvignon Blanc. I've found that most Sauvignon Blancs can be placed into two categories: either very tropical fruit forward, or very grassy and herby. This wine smelled very tropical, I got notes of banana, papaya, pineapple, and a hint of lemon. When I went to take a sip, I expected to feel transported to a Caribbean Island. However, even though it smelled very tropical, it tasted much more like a grassy and herby Sauvignon Blanc. Parsley, dill, and fresh cut grass were the strongest notes, with a hint of grapefruit on the finish. I was very surprised, I haven't found very many wines that taste completely different from how they smell, and I thought this was a very interesting wine. I like grassy Sauvignon Blancs, so I wasn't upset by the taste, just surprised, and I enjoyed the surprise.
I drank this wine with a simple dinner of white rice, chicken potstickers, and green beans. If I had been more in the mood to cook, I would have paired this with a delicate white fish, or a summer salad with mixed greens, watermelon, and goat cheese. The wine has a very fresh and clean taste, and would go great with any meal that's light and a bit zesty.