Suave Sauv

There's life beyond stainless steel for Sauvignon Blanc

Gooseberries and cat pee have their place, but sometimes these typical characteristics of stainless steel-tanked California and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wear thin.

As a result, some winemakers have turned to resourceful solutions, including barrel-aging and fermenting grapes with their skins (a practice typically reserved for red wine).

To rekindle your love affair with the grassy grape, here are four standout bottles that capture Sauvignon Blanc's essence–without any of the clichés.

2007 Te Awa Hawkes Bay ($15) A warmer climate than that of the Marlborough region gives this New Zealand bottling aromas of stone fruit. The 30 percent barrel fermentation punches up the minerality, creating a wine that drinks like white Bordeaux (klwines.com).

2008 Ehlers Estate St. Helena ($25) This crisp wine is completely barrel-fermented in French oak, resulting in brisk notes of pineapple and pear. Its high acidity and alcohol levels are tempered by aging in wood for six months (ehlersestate.com).

2007 Staete Landt Estate Grown Marlborough ($14) Nearly 20 percent of this wine is fermented in six- to 10-year-old barriques. The result is gently rounded and smacks of passion fruit (garyswine.com).

2007 Courier "Ryan's Vineyard" Napa Valley ($45) Don't be put off by this unfiltered wine's opaqueness. Winemaker Jason Berthold's renegade approach–he ferments the juice along with grape skins–maintains the grape's acidity and herbaceous notes (backroomwines.com).