Mailbag Monday: Inexpensive Whites for the Sancerre-Lover?

Dear Alleigh:
I am seriously having trouble finding things that I like and I need new ideas.  I think my problem is that I like French whites, but I am totally intimidated by French wine and feel like I have no idea what I am doing when I choose something (or I like wine that is more expensive than I want to pay)!  I like Sancerre, but they are usually over $20/bottle and for my everyday wine I prefer to be like $10-15.  So what is a cheaper version of a Sancerre, but similar in taste?  I want something that is dry, not boring like most Pinot Grigio is, but also not so tart like I’m finding most Sauvignon Blanc.  Thoughts?  

Your timing is very good because I was reading a couple of articles and blog posts where others were lamenting something very similar…that most “everyday” Sauvignon Blancs have become one-dimensional, esentially having a lot of grass and a lot of tartness (lime-like acid), but not much else.  Unfortunately, no one had a good resolution or a go-to Sauvignon Blanc to suggest.  I just reviewed the 2012 Simi Sauvignon Blanc, and it was a solid, refreshing white that offered a nice alternative to the over-bearing grass and acid.  That said, it was a little unusual for a Sauvignon Blanc (probably because it was 2% Semillion and 1% Viognier grapes), so I’m not sure it will fill the bill for a Sancerre lover.

In order to stay in the under $15 price range while keeping the quality, I would actually recommend branching out away from the Sauvignon Blanc grape.  A close-held secret of mine (that I’m leery about sharing for fear that everyone will run out and grab these whites) is that the Spanish white wine Verdejo is a delicious, food-friendly, and cost-effective alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.  In fact, while I used to automatically gravitate towards a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, I actually now prefer Verdejos.  Chances are, if I see one on a menu when Hubby and I are at a restaurant, that is the wine I will order for the evening.

Another option that tends to be a little more flowery than Sauvignon Blanc, but still is a subtly complex, refreshing, and affordable white wine is an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.  The Austrians do a lot with the grape, including making sparkling and sweet wines, but a regular bottle of still Grüner is a fabulous alternative to a Sauvignon Blanc.

That all said, you’ve made me realize I need to review more Verdejo and Grüner Veltliner.  They tend to be the white wines I order at restaurants rather than buy for home because my wine refrigerator is always full of Sauvignon Blancs.  Clearly, I need to remedy that because they are grapes I love, and I’m sorry that I don’t have more reviews to share with you.

I hope this helps, and I’d love to hear back on whether you find an alternative that works for you.

Question of the Day:  Are you a Sauvignon Blanc lover?  Which ones do you tend to drink?


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  1. Courtney says

    SB is my poison, my go-to grape because I find it great for sipping, without requiring a food pairing.
    I always try to buy local Okanagan wines, but Sauv Blancs are rare. New Zealand has never let me down, and I’ve found some great Chilean and Argentinian options that are very budget friendly ($10 even)


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