While summer lingers, explore more lovely sauvignon blancs

August 13, 2018

Hi - Thank you for the emails on my letter to the editor. They were balanced between moron and right on, with a slight skew to right on. I'm just happy to learn how many are following the issues involved. I firmly believe that citizen involvement is a large part of the solution to most contentious issues involving our communities.

I am happy to report I found several more fairly priced, delicious Sauvignon Blancs to enjoy, adding to those from last week. They are from good ol' USA. Arias SB is from Paso Robles, blended with a splash of Viognier and a touch of Gewurztraminer. The combination is very appealing. Asian pear aroma, round mouthfeel, fruit/sweet but dry, lime, tangerine, and peach flavors riding a crisp frame through a long, clean finish, 88 points under $12. The mouth is crisp and juicy with a fresh finish. Robert Hall Winery is another from Paso. The 2015 SB is 90 points under $20. Green-tinged straw with apple, citrus and hints of pear bouquet. On the complex palate look for grapefruit, lime, apple, lemongrass and pear. Medium body with crisp, mineral-driven acidity. Davis Bynum Virginia's Block Jane's Vineyard North Coast RRV Sonoma will run you about $22. Try to find the 90-point 2015, but the 89-point 2017 will do if you wait until next year. The '17 has lemongrass, citrus rind and honeydew melon nose. On the palate medium body, lime and tropical fruit supported by bright acidity which also cleans up the palate. The 2015: light straw with clear rim, tropical fruit, lime and white flower bouquet. These were barrel-aged, causing a fuller body and tropical fruit flavors accented by limey acidity. The fruit provides an indication of sweetness that hollers, "Try me with Asian or Mexican seafood renditions."

Can't do Cali without Napa. So, last but most, how about Joseph Phelps Vineyards St. Helena SB (you've all read or heard of their Insignia). Rated 90 or above since 2013, all selling around $35. Great winemakers make great wine. The 2017 came in at $40. Hold off on it. This price will revert to mean by February or March. If you have a choice and you like dry and herbal with big body, go with the '15. Complex bouquet of herbs, grass and a fillip of oak. Apricot and green-apple flavors ride a balanced frame and medium, round body through a clean finish with a hint of fig, 91 points. While I'm on Phelps, try to find their Late Harvest Eisrebe 2013. It is made of a varietal grape named Scheurebe. Not an easy find but worth the effort. Following is a right-on-the-money description that caught my eye for the Phelps 2017 Delice du Semillon: "brimming with ripe pear, fragrant white flowers and chamomile followed by intense layers of peach nectar, lemon meringue and candied pineapple. Nicely textured with bright acidity and a honeyed finish." Phelps' folks make lovely desert wines.

SB is a great summer wine. Don't forget most of them are also lovely with oysters. If you are a true wino who loves wine with food, buying a mixed case should get you a discount. "Drink white wines young" is partly a canard.

Anything that spends time in a barrel probably will store at least a few years. Today's vintage is very rarely ready, even for wines made "to drink now." Someday I'll write about bottle shock. Today I want to squeeze in a red for longtime big-buck reader Janey.

Janey, I don't often write of the huge, famous Bordeaux because the interest of typical readers is limited. However, you asked about Chateau Petrus, and here's my read. The lowest-rated in my memory at 91 points was 1997. In 2013 it was at $1,991, declined to $1,835 and is selling today at $2,380. The 2003, 93 points, was priced $1,997, $1,498, today $2,348. Those are per bottle, folks. By comparison, Phelps Insignia 1997, 95 points, was $223, straight up to $407, and Screaming Eagle 2010 came in at 97 points $1,087 is now $4,267. I recognize these are very different wines. That said, I can buy a case of Insignia today, three each of the 94-point rated 2004, '07, '10, and '13 for $2,500. To me that is a better use of money. Obviously for speculators, the Screamer would have been better. And the return on each recent vintage has been spectacular.