I enjoy sauvignon blanc in all its regional interpretations, from the Loire Valley wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, to New Zealand and some of the more restrained California sauvignon blancs as well. That said, a lot of sauvignon blancs take the easy way out and offer similar takes on the same theme. Not so with the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Steirische Klassik from Tement. This Austrian sauvignon blanc stands up and demands attention, and any serious fan of sauvignon blanc would be apt to try it.
This sauvignon blanc is unique, to say the least. Actually, it borders on the extreme. It has a lovely lemon-green color in the glass. The aromas are really wild: a burst of onion grass right off the bat, then some white flowers, followed up by crushed rocks and gooseberries. My first thought was: "It smells Austrian," because that zesty fruit and smoky mineral combination strikes me as quintessentially Austrian.
The palate shows great cut, medium body and a lot of mineral flavors. The dominant fruit flavor is green apple, followed up by limes, and then there's this pungent flavor that reminds me of leeks and green onions. I happen to like these flavors, but they might be a bit much for some. This bottle is, unquestionably, a great example of what Austrian sauvignon blanc can do. I actually think this could stand up well to a lot of foods that are usually difficult to pair, such as asparagus.
Also, I'd wager that this is one of those SBs that would benefit from three to five years of age. I tasted two bottles of this wine, back to back, one of which had been opened for 24 hours, and the other one hour. The difference was remarkable, and the bottle that was opened for a whole day was showing so much more floral and potpourri flavors, while the freshly opened bottle showed more pungent herbs. I scored it 90 points.
Weygandt Wines in DC sells this wine normally for $28 per bottle, but they're running a deal on half and full cases. Either way, this wine brings some serious stuff for the price. Tement is a superb producer, with claims to Premier Cru and Grand Cru designated vineyards. They grow mostly white grapes, Sauvignon Blanc counting for half of production. If you're looking for a different take on a classic white grape, this is your wine.