Going by scent alone, sauvignon blanc is among the most recognizable of wines. Its most popular expressions feature distinctive smells of citrus fruits and green herbs that are rarely encountered in other, less aromatic white wines. However, these traits tend to be most pronounced in sauvignon blanc wines from colder, cloudier growing regions, such as coastal New Zealand or northern France.

Warmer, drier places like California or Argentina tend to produce a heavier sauvignon blanc that tastes softer, more ripe, and less recognizable as a result. These warm-climate sauvignon blancs can slide toward aromatic anonymity, with flavors more like kiwi or honeydew melon, and become hard to distinguish from unoaked chardonnay or pinot gris.

But there are regions of California where colder growing conditions preserve the piercing scents that sauvignon blanc fans adore, regions like Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. The notch carved into Sonoma’s coastal hills by the Russian River allows for a daily intrusion of fog that slithers upriver to cool the vines and slow the ripening process.

This appellation may be more famous for the excellence of its chardonnay and pinot noir, but its sauvignon blanc wines benefit just as much from the terrain and are much more affordable. This delightful example features the lemony flavors and leafy aromas sauvignon blanc drinkers crave, with less of the aggressive acidity found in versions from France or New Zealand.

Frei Brothers Sonoma Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Courtesy of Frei Brothers
Frei Brothers Sonoma Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Frei Brothers Sauvignon Blanc - Russian River Valley, California (13.9% ABV)

On sale for $15.99 through March 1 (regularly $18.99); PLCB Item #7118

Also available at: G’s Liquor Gallery in West Deptford, N.J., for $15.49; Hops & Grapes in Glassboro, N.J., for $15.95; Canal’s Bottlestop in Marlton, N.J., for $15.99; Cheers Wine & Spirits in Voorhees, N.J., for $15.99.