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Wine of the week: Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Line39 Sauvignon Blanc 2012In the old days, which in wine means the end of the 20th century, sauvignon blanc came in three styles — California, French, and New Zealand. Each tasted like sauvignon blanc, but was just enough different from each other to be noticeable. Some time after that, the first two styles started to merge toward the third, so that most sauvignon blanc tasted like grapefuit. That’s because the New Zealand style was about as trendy as trendy gets, and we know how the wine business loves a trend.

Fortunately, the styles have started moving back to where they used to be, and especially in California. I’ve tasted a variety of delightful California sauvignon blanc over the past 18 months, where grassiness — the smell of a freshly-cut lawn — is the predominant note. There is also citrus and tropical fruit, but those don’t overwhelm the grassiness, and the wines are refreshing and enjoyable.

A fine example of this change is the Line 39 ($10, purchased, 13.5%), which has worked its way from New Zealand to California over the past several years. In this, it was always more than adequate, but has improved the more California in style that it has become. The 2012, which is apparently the current vintage though a bit old, is grassy, with lime fruit and rich mouth feel. All of this makes it more than just another grocery store sauvignon blanc. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame.

4 Responses to Wine of the week: Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc 2012

  1. rdietz3d@verizon.net' Ray Dietz says:

    Jeff, you mentioned in this review that the wine being a 2012 may be a bit long in the tooth, but still apparently drinking well I guess. How long does “cheap” Cali white wine, in your opinion, hold up, drink well, and stay fresh tasting? I’ve had a couple of 2012’s lately that I’ve tasted earlier in the year that have gone off the cliff with a lot of the fruit simply disappeared.

    It also seems that it is taking much longer this year for the 2013 whites to show up on the shelves. Another problem caused by the Three Tier System?

    • I don’t think the excess of 2012 wines is anything more than the results of the past couple of huge California harvests and that there’s just a lot of wine to sell. Bulk grape prices are so low (as Rob McMillan at Silicon Valley Bank has noted) that grapes are being held off the market.

      That some of the cheaply made 2012 wines are starting to go off is probably a function of how poorly made they were or how poorly there were stored in their journey to the store. Hot delivery trucks, hot warehouses, hot loading docks and the like will age a wine faster than imaginable.

  2. dwayne_morrison@hotmail.com' Dwayne Morrison says:

    I agree with your sentiment towards the extreme NZ grapefruit style. I know this is sacrilege these days but I still appreciate a touch of oak with SB.

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