Some Good Sauvignon Blancs
Several good Sauvignon Blancs have shown up at recent odds-and-ends tastings here at the Tasting Room, so it seems like now's the time to mention them all, a kind of grab-bag of citrusy vino-zing.
2006 Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc ($19) South African winemaker Kevin Grant (formerly of Hamilton Russell Vineyards) founded Ataraxia a couple of years back—the first vintage released was '05—to concentrate on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. But he couldn't resist making a Sauvignon Blanc as well, which is nice for us, since it's full of flinty citrus notes and a hint of cracked pepper. I'm also indebted to Grant for his descriptor of what too much Sauvignon Blanc smells like, which is "sweaty adolescent armpit." Yep. That's a negative smell, that one. (Imported by Leucadia)
2007 Ceàgo Vinegarden Kathleen's Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($18) Ceàgo is former Fetzer president Jim Fetzer's biodynamic project up in Mendocino, though this wine actually comes from a separate (also biodynamic) vineyard in Lake County. Very appealing crisp Sauvignon with melon and citrus zest notes, almost prickly on the tongue but in a good way. Ceàgo, by the way, is derived from a Pomo Indian word meaning "grass seed valley." You know the Pomo Indians...they're the ones that are always referencing other Indians in a studiedly ironic way...
2007 Provenance Vineyards Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc ($20) Lots of flavor in this Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc—lemon curd, lime zest, rubyred grapefruit—but not the flabbiness often found in warmer climate SB's. It gets some additional richness and palate depth from 20% of the wine staying on its lees in stainless steel barrels (and 5% in oak), and also about 8% Semillon being in the blend. Really inviting Sauvignon—this you could drink all summer long.
2006 Kim Crawford Small Parcel Spitfire Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($20) My tasting note for this reads, "Absolute spot-on 100% passion fruit." And in truth, I've never had a Sauvignon Blanc that smelled so exactly like fresh passion fruit, which is kind of cool. Doesn't hurt that this is fun to drink, too—all that passion fruit (did I mention passion fruit?) flavor gets balanced by a crisp herbiness and tingly acidity. (The vintage is current; Kim Crawford's Small Parcel wines are released later than regular releases.)
2007 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc ($25) Winemaker Francois Cordesse says about this white, "We try to stay away from dry herb, and fine-tune toward grapefruit." To which I say, hot diggity dog. I also say: it's mostly Knight's Valley fruit, a small percentage of Sauvignon Musque, with about 15% of the wine in one- and two-year-old French oak, and if you ask me it smells and tastes like mangoes, lemon oil, grapefruit and a touch of cream. Very pretty wine.
2006 Château de Sancerre Sancerre ($25) Very classic Sancerre with a grassy, clear, citrusy aroma and clean, fresh notes of melon and citrus; though it has good Sauvignon Blanc acidity, it also has a very appealing roundness in the mouth. The Château itself, oddly enough, was a gift from Louis Marnier-Lapostolle to his wife in 1919.