An international jet-setter, Sauvignon Blanc has proven time and again that it’s perfectly at home in regions across the globe. While the grape’s French origins cannot be forgotten, the variety has also taken root in other parts of the Old World, like Italy and Austria. Plantings have also flourished in the Southern Hemisphere in countries like New Zealand, South Africa and Chile.
In the United States, the grape’s notable history dates back to the 1960s when Robert Mondavi bottled his famous Fumé Blanc—an oaked version of the variety. Today, as one of the most widely planted varieties in California, many great Sauvignon Blanc bottlings can be found. Look to Napa and Sonoma for sure, but excellent values can also be found from Lake County, Mendocino County, the Central Coast and beyond.
10 California Sauvignon Blancs for $20 and Under
Daou 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (Paso Robles); $17, 92 points. The first vintage of Sauvignon Blanc from this producer is a complex and lively white wine to balance their rich red portfolio. Aromas of jalapeño, green herbs and wet cement meet with nectarine on the nose, while the zesty palate combines bell pepper, lime peel, peach and tropical fruit. Editors’ Choice. –Matt Kettmann.
Hess Select 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (North Coast); $13, 92 points. The Hess winemakers hit a home run with this wine. Very dense and mineral-laden, this concentrated and complex bottle shows fig and clay aromas, and bright citrus flavors accented by savory mushroom notes. So while well-grounded in fresh fruitiness, it also brings complexity, layering and interest to the table. Best Buy. –Jim Gordon
Paul Dolan 2019 Made with Organic Grapes Sauvignon Blanc (Mendocino County); $18, 91 points. Fresh herb flavors light up this well-balanced, concentrated and distinctive wine. Basil and parsley aromas are followed by lemongrass flavors that carry a lot of energy through the tangy finish. –J.G.
Angeline 2018 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County); $13, 90 points. This is a stainless-steel fermented white wine that retains plenty of freshness and verve from start to finish. Sleek, citrus-driven flavors of lemon, grapefruit and a touch of green apple mingle around lifted acidity and a light texture. Best Buy. –Virginie Boone
Boatique 2019 Sauvignon Blanc (Big Valley District); $20, 90 points. This excellent wine is bright and fresh, gently acidic and showing citrus and fresh herb flavors. It’s medium bodied, clean and refreshing, just what most Sauvignon is supposed to be. –J.G.
Charles Krug 2019 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley); $18, 90 points. This is a stainless-steel fermented white made in large quantities that hits the mark in its candied perfume of peach and apricot. Lively and crisp, it retains a wealth of high-toned acidity and brightness throughout. –V.B.
Decoy 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County); $20, 90 points. This white delivers great quality and appeal. Approachable, soft and smooth, it has rich flavors of peach, pear and melon that are brightened by crisp acidity. Editors’ Choice. –V.B.
Martin Ray 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley); $15, 90 points. This is a stainless-steel fermented and aged white wine that delivers earthy elements of mushroom and wet stone surrounded by stone fruit and Meyer lemon. Light, crisp and bright, it has nice balance and nuance. Best Buy. –V.B.
Tortoise Creek 2018 Cuvée Jeane Sauvignon Blanc (Central Coast); $12, 90 points. A range of squeezed citrus, from tangerine to grapefruit, shows on the nose of this bottling alongside apple rinds, struck stone and green banana. There is compelling tension to the sip, where kiwi flavors are rounded but crisp—a very reliable bottling each vintage. Best Buy. –M.K.
Tribute 2019 Sauvignon Blanc (Monterey County); $17, 90 points. Rounded aromas of apple and ripe pear meet with peach, apple blossoms and a mix of kiwi and jicama on the dynamic nose of this bottling. The palate’s ripe pear flavor is cut by wet cement and white pepper. –M.K.