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Tag Archives: sauvignon blanc

Wine review: Benziger Sauvignon Blanc 2011

2011_NC_SB_FPeriodically, the Wine Curmudgeon will wax nostalgic about great $10 wines that are no more – the old Big House Red, when Randall Grahm owned it, for example, or the legendary Hogue Fume Blanc, which once got me out of a wine bar fight (a story I’ll have to share one of these days).

Benziger’s Fume Blanc, which the winery stopped making four or five years ago, was one of those wines. It was a regular in the $10 Hall of Fame in those dark, pre-recession days, when I wrote that “wineries, producers, and marketers seem to be spending their money on packaging and advertising instead of what’s in the bottle” and I worried that great cheap wine was going to go away.

This, as near as I can tell, is the successor to the fume (which is just another name for wine made with sauvignon blanc), though I haven’t tasted it in a while. The 2011 ($8, purchased, 13.5%) is a previous vintage, which is why it cost so little; suggested retail is closer to $15, though the 2012 may be available for $10 or $11 in some places. This is classic California-style sauvignon blanc with grassy aromas, but also a very refreshing tropical pop in the middle. Very well done, and a steal at this price.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame – as it should be, if the past is any indication.

Wine of the week: Maxwell Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2012

image from www.winecurmudgeon.comMaxwell Creek has been one of the great mysteries of the wine business – incredible $10 wine from Napa Valley, but no one quite sure who or what Maxwell Creek really is.

The Wine Curmudgeon, using post-modern technology (in the form of a federal government website that matches producers and wine labels) can confirm the rumors: Maxwell Creek is a second label for St. Supery, long a consistent and quality and expensive Napa producer.

Whatever possessed St. Supery to do Maxwell Creek, the Wine Curmudgeon is grateful. The sauvignon blanc ($10, purchased, 13.5%) is $10 Hall of Fame quality wine, and the only thing that will keep it out of the hall in January is limited availability. Apparently, it’s only sold at World Market (and maybe Bed Bath & Beyond with wine departments), and World Market has stores in just 30 states.

This wine has a little more citrus (grapefruit and lime?) than a traditional California sauvignon blanc, but it’s not quite as overwhelming as similar wines from New Zealand. There’s even a little tropical fruit in the middle, and it’s not nearly as simple as a lot of other sauvignon blancs at this price. And yes, the adjectives fresh and clean and zingy apply here.

Drink this chilled with an end of summer picnic or barbecue (grilled chicken, perhaps?) and hope that St. Supery will continue to do us this favor.

Wine of the week: Thorny Rose Sauvignon Blanc 2011

ss_tr_img_bottle-sauvblancNew Zealand sauvignon blancs were all the rage in the couple of years before I started the blog. One of them, Cloudy Bay, even got big scores from the Winestream Media, something that almost never happens to sauvignon blancs.

Since then, they’ve mostly faded into the store shelf and have become just another wine to buy. I’m not quite sure why; the fickle consumer, perhaps, who moved on to something else?

So I was surprised to see the Thorny Rose ($9, purchased, 13.5%), apparently a new label from Big Wine’s Constellation Brands. Who is doing new sauvignon blancs these days?

Be glad they’re doing this one. I expected another tepid grocery store New Zealand sauvignon blanc, with lots of sort of grapefruity fruit and not much else. Instead, I tasted lots of real grapefruit, as well as a tiny bit of tropical fruit in the middle and even an attempt at a finish. This is not a one-flavor wine by any means. (Though, if you click on the link to the wine, be warned: The copy reads as if it was written by someone my age trying to appeal to someone in their 20s.)

Serve it chilled with roast or grilled chicken or boiled or grilled seafood, and don’t forget how much sauvignon blanc likes garlic and parsley.

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