In this blistering weather, it’s natural for wine drinkers to think about cooling off with a refreshing white wine. California sauvignon blanc is an ideal choice.
Article by: Rich Mauro via Colorado Springs Gazette
While it comes in a variety of styles and expressions, it’s assertively aromatic, with refreshing acidity. Expect a flavor profile of brisk green citrus (lime, gooseberry) but also other citrus, especially grapefruit, and a distinctive (sometimes spicy) herbaceousness. Wines made from riper fruit often display peach, melon or even tropical fruits.
Most of the wines are fermented and aged in stainless steel to emphasize fresh, varietal characteristics. Some use small amounts of mostly neutral oak and winemaking techniques to round out flavors and add texture.
I found a number of good everyday values that tend to be lighter with the focus on varietal fruit. They are listed in order of price:
• 2016 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve ($13) juicy, multifaceted.
• 2016 Hess Select ($13) snappy, assertive.
• 2017 J. Lohr Flume Crossing ($14).
• 2016 Edna Valley ($14) nutty, luscious.
• 2016 Murphy-Goode The Fumé ($14) tangy, smooth.
• 2017 Two Angels ($17) nicely balanced.
• 2016 Decoy ($20) ripe, refreshing.
• 2017 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Creek Valley ($20) enticingly green, sumptuous.
As consumer friendly as these wines are, I found more complexity and flavor interest above $20. The 2016 Sidebar High Valley ($22), sourced from a cool vineyard in Lake County, is lively and succulent with smoke and spice. Without seeing any oak, the bright, assertive 2017 Cuvaison ($24) nicely expresses its cool climate Carneros estate fruit.
From the Russian River Valley, I especially enjoyed Dutton Estate’s brisk, spicy 2016 Kylie’s Cuvee ($25) from the family’s highly regarded Dutton Ranch, and the earthy 2017 Davis Bynum Virginia’s Block ($25) showcases the vineyard’s ripe fruit. In Napa Valley, another respected vineyard owner, the Gamble Family, produced a rich 2016 Gamble Vineyard ($25), showing some oak and spice.
Several breached the $30 threshold, but each is exceptional. The 2017 Acumen Mountainside ($30), from high-altitude vineyards in Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak appellation, offers noticeable but well-integrated oak. With fruit from the Oak Knoll District of southern Napa Valley, the 2017 Ladera ($30) offers juicy flavors with a touch of oak.
Three Napa Valley wineries better known for their other wines also make fine sauvignon blanc. The lush 2016 Duckhorn ($30) has a nice touch of oak and licorice. The 2015 Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc ($31) is enticingly brisk and herbal. The full-bodied 2017 Ehlers Estate St. Helena ($32) is bursting with clean, varietal qualities and succulent acidity.
Back in Sonoma County, Chalk Hill’s high-altitude estate vineyards on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains in the Chalk Hill appellation yielded an intense, flavorful 2016 ($33) deftly integrating fruit, oak and structure. My favorite wine of the tasting. And Sidebar’s intense 2016 Ritchie Vineyard ($34) shows off its 44-year-old Russian River Valley vines, with verve.
And now for something completely different: a Tequila Barrel Aged Sauvignon Blanc from Cooper & Thief (2016, $30). The promo material says this is in answer to the growing popularity of tequila. The wine is aged in Casa Noble Añejo barrels and definitely exhibits tequila aromas and flavors, as well as caramel and vanilla.