As much as I love the racy style and often-loud fragrance of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I am not immune to the delicacy the grape can produce in its homeland, the Loire Valley of France. The Touraine appellation, which encompasses the Vouvray AOC, doesn't get as much respect as does the much-smaller Sancerre, with its distinctive grassy flavors and tight structure, or neighboring Pouilly-Fumé, which makes wines of similar dimensions. But Touraine Sauvignon can make a better match with light fish dishes.
That was the case when I ordered a glass of Mérieau Sauvignon Touraine L'Arpent des Vaudons 2007 to drink with chef Mark LoRusso's signature plate of Italian crudo at Botero, his new restaurant at Wynn Encore in Las Vegas. On its own, the wine seemed simple and refreshing. But with both the hamachi balanced with tangy tangerine and the salmon anointed with Meyer lemon, the fish brought out the wine's lurking minerality, and the sweetness of the citrus gave it a bit more backbone. The result was a near-ideal match. Non-blind, 85 points for the wine on its own, but 95 for the match.
Turns out the wine comes from a single parcel of organically farmed 60-year-old vines and is aged in stainless steel, no oak. It needs food to open the door, and I appreciate how it blossomed with LoRusso's happy array of fish.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Jean-François Mérieau Sauvignon Touraine L'Arpent des Vaudons 2007 (83, $15).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Loire Valley whites.