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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.

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