I’m sampling Sauvignon Blancs - hey, somebody’s gotta do it

September 5, 2020

Before finishing with some upper-scale Sauvignon Blanc, let me recommend Angeline SB Reserve RRV Sonoma 2018, another $11 wine rated 90 points by both Suckling and Wine Enthusiast. Here are both reviews: “Sliced-lemon and honey aromas with hints of celery and fennel. Medium body. Pear and melon flavors. Fun and easy. Drink now. Screw cap.” and “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.” My notes read: Owned by Martin Ray Winery; very pale green, almost clear. Floral, honeydew and tropical aromas; complex palate with green apple, melon and citrus flavors supported by crisp, bright, acidity frame. Citrus repeats on clean, medium finish. Recommended with halibut and lemon; 91 plus one price point. A bargain and a half. We used sautéed rock with beurre blanc. Excellent. 

The following is worthwhile. Three experts – Kevin Zraly, Oz Clarke and Matt Kramer – discussing SB:

Margerum SB Sybarite Happy Canyon Santa Barbara 2018, $20, has rated 89 or better since 2014. I was initially attracted due to the label. What could possibly go wrong with a Happy Canyon Sybarite? So far, nothing. The 2017 came in at 91 and $20; try to find some. The ‘19 is 90 points, another true $20 bargain. Cade SB Howell Mountain Napa 2019, 92 McD, $29, is the new kid on the block, owned by PlumpJack. Complex aromatics, trop fruit, guava, grapefruit, herbaceous and lemon/lime. On the citrusy palate, add some lemon curd and orange notes provided by Viognier and Semillon in the blend. Barrel fermentation and lees stirring add a pleasing round mouthfeel, and the finish shows a mild flint minerality somewhat reminiscent of Mosel Riesling without the petrol. My only problem with PlumpJack and Cade is they are partly owned by Gavin Newsom. I wonder if their need for cheap farm labor enters the political realm. 

Those who enjoy minerally SB will love Cliff Lede SB Yountville Napa 2018, 92 McD. It shows dried herbs, spices, and nectarine aromas along with peach and citrus flavors, plus limestone and honey notes in its bright finish. Merry Edwards RRV 2018 was extremely well received, rated 92-95 by most. If you truly love SB from Napa that’s great value, this would be my choice. They do all the right moves from grape to glass, 93 McD; don’t pay more than $46. The 2018 is blended with 42 percent Sauvignon Musqué (means musky or Muscat-like, highly aromatic). Barrel fermented in 18 percent new French oak and left on lees six months. Very complex nose. Gooseberry, cut grass, pineapple, kiwi, flower blossoms, mostly peach, and oak spice nose. On the full-bodied, leesy palate more complexity prevails. Honeysuckle, ginger, more pineapple, peach and mango flavors, all riding a bright acidic frame through a clean, spicy finish. Although I want to help Cali winemakers, I can’t support some of their nonsense. Kenzo Estate sells its Asatsuyu Napa SB 2018, McD 90, for about $80-$90. The wine is quite well made, but that price wrecks its value. A tough find but worth your search. The Grade Cellars Sea Fog SB from Thomas Rivers Brown, who has won wonderful accolades for his Cabs, is a top value at $33. Look for floral and stone fruit aromas, citrus and honey, peach and jasmine flavors supported with bright acidity and soft minerality on the finish. Check out their website; it is very descriptive,

Clark wrote to ask about Motor City Kitty. Here are my notes: A Charles K. Smith, Washington state Syrah constantly rated 92 McD since 2012 with the exception of a 90 for 2016. A good buy under $35. Better value than Napa PlumpJack with the exception of their 2016, which rated 94 McD under $59. Yes, my friends, I realize I switched categories and possibly allowed my prejudices to interfere with my palate.


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