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"Those Better Blancs"

  by Fred McMillin

Mondavi Stags Leap Blanc  
Five years ago, on November 26, 1994, we tasted six representative Sauvignon Blanc (alias Fumé Blanc) wines. Their average price was only $8.50. Today, there's a new generation of Sauvignon Blanc costing $15 or more. Are they worth it? Does an $18 Sauvignon Blanc taste better than an $18 Chardonnay?

To get an answer, we selected a set of six 1997 Blancs with an average price of $17, exactly twice that of the 1994 set. Each was paired with a Chardonnay of the same price. Here's what we found. (The wines that won their match by the largest margin are listed last.)

  Winning Margin (votes) Winner The Wine
6th - 5 Chardonnay Byron, Santa Maria Valley, '97, $19
5th - 6 Chardonnay Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, '97, $16
4th - 8 Chardonnay Gundlach Bundschu Sonorna Valley, '97, $18
2nd(tie) - 21 Sauvignon Blanc Robert Mondavi, Stags Leap District, '97, $18
2nd(tie) - 21 Chardonnay Sebastiani, Sonoma County, '97, $13
1st - 22 Sauvignon Blanc "Cuvee Barrique" by Renaissance North Yuba, '97, $17


  • Sauvignon Blanc won only two of the six matches.

  • However, the Blanc winning margin averaged 21.5, while the Chardonnays averaged only 10.

  • This small test indicates these Better Blancs are becoming competitive with America's favorite white, Chardonnay. Try one with herb-roasted chicken.  
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