Sauvignon Blancs satisfy summer cravings

April 30, 2012

On the advice of a friend, I read “Gods of the Copybook Headings,” by Rudyard Kipling. This poem, written in 1919, was a cautionary about the Federal Reserve, written shortly after Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives implemented it. A great short read that I found prescient. You might want to crack open a bottle of headache reliever to soothe the angst. Following is a nice list of analgesics for the lazy, hazy days that I promised a few weeks ago.

You may wish to buy a case of Lail Vineyards SB Blueprint 2010. You must search it out to buy it. At $220 per case, it is a total Willy Sutton. Lail Blueprint SB is often called the Sancerre of Napa Valley. For my money it is the best of the Cali SBs. It has a pale straw, yellow-green tinge; the bouquet is a heady perfume of geranium, melon and lime. It opens to a deep flavor pack of fruit, pear and a hint of mint, a rich wine with a long, complex, but clean finish. Normally sells around $35 bottle, so don’t dawdle.

2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Sauvignon Blanc Private Selection is a good buy at $15-20; the nose is loaded with lemon and lime zest. It follows the NZ trend of fresh, acid-bright SBs. On the palate, lemongrass rides a clean, complex, focused frame to a nice denouement.

Peay Vineyards does an excellent job, especially with grapes from Hopkins Ranch. Most of its varietal wine runs $40-50. The second label, Cep Vineyards, produces a delightful $15-20 SB that shows Meyer lemon in its nose and on the palate. Hints of mint and some chalky minerality add complexity over its long, juicy finish. Andy Peay says they had the grapes picked early to sharpen the acidity and to avoid the tropical fruit characteristics in order to shape it toward Sancerre, as opposed to NZ. I think they hit the mark.

Definitely worth looking for: Margerum Sybarite SB 2010. No. 88 of WS’ top 100 of 2011, Sybarite is eponymous for this 93-point gem. Pale straw, opens to a very prolific bouquet of cut green grass, melon, apples and tangerine. On the palate full, fruity, mineral flavors and bright acidity vie with the nose to provide balance through a crisp, clean finish. I’m rating Sybarite a point or two higher due to its very fair price/value, about $260/case.

Try Errazuriz from Chile; make sure it is the 2009 not ‘10. Light greenish-yellow, opens to tropical fruit nose flowing to the palate with a sharp acidity influenced by touches of tomato leaf and herbs. Medium body, nice persistence, 91 points; buy under $15.

St. Clair Vicar’s Choice: you can buy 2008, 2009 and 2011. The 2011 are 92 points. Vicar’s Choice is pale straw with green tinge, has aromas of passionfruit, black currant, grapefruit and nettles with accent mineral notes. On the palate, Marlborough flavor profile of gooseberry, black currant and grapefruit. A pleasing mineral note leads to a long, lingering finish. Should be able to buy it under $180/case.

Best for last, a bellwether name, Duckhorn SB 2010 is 93 points and can be had for $240/case. The aromas are rich with layers of pineapple, guava, peach and lemon zest. On the palate, it is crisp with good acidity supporting flavors of lemon meringue, grapefruit, pear and flint. The addition of Semillon accentuates the wine's tropical notes with subtle oak and a slight green olive flavor, typical of Duckhorn, adding nuance.

Another summer pleaser is Chenin Blanc. Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010 is not your ordinary Chenin. This South African beauty is aged 12 months in the same oak regime as the non-Reserve Chenin Blanc, but much riper fruit is used. It has a well-defined bouquet with integrated oak, brioche, fig, hints of hazelnut and spice. On the complex palate, you may discern lemon curd, orange, apricot and more brioche. Best of all, this will keep through 2017 and can be had under $185/case. Give the Forrester Reserve a try, and I’m betting you will lay in a summer’s supply.