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Sauvignon Blanc- anyone notice this?


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I've had a few 2003 Sauvignon Blancs from Napa recently (St. Supery and Voss in particular) and have noticed that there is very little color in these wines- and I am so used to SB being straw yellow. I know color isn't always a big deal, but i was wondering if these are too young to drink, if they need another year in the bottle?

Hopefully I am not outing myself as a true novice here....just wondering if others had noticed....

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The straw color that you are used to USUALLY comes from producers of Sauvignon Blanc who age their wine in a bit of oak. Those who produce an SB in stainless steel would ultimately have a wine that is very, very pale in color.

Most SB is made to be drunk very young so sitting on for a year could be more detrimental than beneficial.

Personally, I prefer SBs that have seen little or no oak and therefore tend to be very pale in color.

Open them up and enjoy -- and then report back what you think!

Edited by Carolyn Tillie (log)
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I've had a few 2003 Sauvignon Blancs from Napa recently (St. Supery and Voss in particular) and have noticed that there is very little color in these wines- and I am so used to SB being straw yellow. I know color isn't always a big deal, but i was wondering if these are too young to drink, if they need another year in the bottle?

Hopefully I am not outing myself as a true novice here....just wondering if others had noticed....

Todd Wernstrom observed in The Wine News last year (as did others, I'm sure, but his piece was the one I read) that CA SB producers are beginning to learn that you can't handle SB the same way you would Chardonnay (i.e., aging on oak, as Carolyn mentioned). Just as you don't manhandle Pinot Noir the way you would Cabernet. The result is, hopefully, SBs that are more classic, traditional, and I would argue appropriate to the grape. It sounds like you're seeing some of the first results of this. I'm with Carolyn on appreciating this style over the typical CA version.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

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I've had a few 2003 Sauvignon Blancs from Napa recently (St. Supery and Voss in particular) and have noticed that there is very little color in these wines- and I am so used to SB being straw yellow. I know color isn't always a big deal, but i was wondering if these are too young to drink, if they need another year in the bottle?

Hopefully I am not outing myself as a true novice here....just wondering if others had noticed....

Todd Wernstrom observed in The Wine News last year (as did others, I'm sure, but his piece was the one I read) that CA SB producers are beginning to learn that you can't handle SB the same way you would Chardonnay (i.e., aging on oak, as Carolyn mentioned). Just as you don't manhandle Pinot Noir the way you would Cabernet. The result is, hopefully, SBs that are more classic, traditional, and I would argue appropriate to the grape. It sounds like you're seeing some of the first results of this. I'm with Carolyn on appreciating this style over the typical CA version.

Very interesting. Thank you for the information!

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St. Supery and Voss are two Napa producers who usually do a good job with SB, so that it tastes like SB and not a Chardonnay wannabe. I'd echo Carolyn, these aren't made to age. I'd ask the question, how did they taste, regardless of the color?

Cheers,

geo

Edited by geo t. (log)

George Heritier aka geo t.

The Gang of Pour

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The straw color that you are used to USUALLY comes from producers of Sauvignon Blanc who age their wine in a bit of oak.

Exactly! As a forthright Scotswoman put it to me in California a year ago, pointing to a bottle of typical SB, "It's the wrong color! It's not Sauvignon-Blanc-colored! You people in California are always over-oaking your white varietals!" (She was comparing to some of the excellent SB's from other countries.)

SB need not be completely pale without heavy oaking, but it may have a greenish tinge that you don't see when it's highly oaked.

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St. Supery and Voss are two Napa producers who usually do a good job with SB, so that it tastes like SB and not a Chardonnay wannabe.  I'd echo Carolyn, these aren't made to age.  I'd ask the question, how did they taste, regardless of the color?

Cheers,

geo

I would definitely say that the flavor was as I would expect from a SB - crisp, with some grassy flavors, maybe a slight hint of citrus, but not overpowering. I didn't notice as many of the tropical fruit flavors I typically remember from other Napa SBs. Very "clean."

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Had a wonderful 2003 Peter Michael L'Apres Midi Sauv Blanc last night. It was quite dry and grassy with honey undertones, and I believe it is aged briefly in oak. It has a deeper yellow tone than other sauv blancs that I have tried lately, but still a straw color not tending toward chardonnay color. Certainly one of my favorites so far. My husband didn't quite know what to expect from this wine - he was impressed with the complex flavors that were new for him in a sauvignon blanc, but declared "you can still tell that it is a sauvignon blanc."

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Color isn't always telling. I recall a few years back some big hubbub over a wine tasting where all the wines were in black opaque glassware. Some "professional" tasters had trouble distinguishing white wine from red wines.

For another California Sauvignon Blanc producer that stays away from oak (in their SB anyway), try Cakebread. And if you want a really zippy wine, try Trinity Hill from New Zealand.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I dont know about that one... unless the 2003 is differnet from the previous vintages, Cakebread does oak their Sauvignon Blanc. I am particulariy sensative to new world SB that is masked by oak, and even the 30% or so at Cakebread is not to my liking. I like the St. Suprey a great deal, and also St. Clement. as they are all done in stainless steal.

Color isn't always telling.  I recall a few years back some big hubbub over a wine tasting where all the wines were in black opaque glassware.  Some "professional" tasters had trouble distinguishing white wine from red wines.

For another California Sauvignon Blanc producer that stays away from oak (in their SB anyway), try Cakebread.  And if you want a really zippy wine, try Trinity Hill from New Zealand.

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Is it off topic to mention French wines made with the grape variety?

Pouilly Fumé or Sancerre. Puilly Fume has more structure, it's tends to be dry. A little smokey with hay. Sancerre tends to be lighter, floral and citrus notes.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

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Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

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I dont know about that one... unless the 2003 is differnet from the previous vintages, Cakebread does oak their Sauvignon Blanc.  I am particulariy sensative to new world SB that is masked by oak, and even the 30% or so at Cakebread is not to my liking.

Well, it has been a while since I've had it. I thought at least at one time they didn't. But I could be wrong about that. I'll have to check and see if they have always done it, and I'm just mistaken.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I have a couple of bottles of the Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc 2003 in my wine rack at the moment. I really love this wine. It's been on sale here in PA for around $20 recently so I bought several. According to the winemaker's tasting notes, it's fermented 75% in stainless steel, the remainder in neutral berrel, and then three quarters of the wine was aged five months in French oak. Periodic batonnage gives it that richness and "lees-y-ness" that I love so much. It certainly has an identifiable oakiness, but it's applied judiciously to my palate, at least this time around.

That's not to say I haven't tasted my share of overoaked wines... :rolleyes:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 1 month later...

diving back into the SB thread briefly ...

anyone got any other recommendations for *stainless*-aged NZ-style California sauv blancs? i'm compiling a batch for a tasting soon, but still looking for a few more to add in.

St. Supery and Mason already on the list. Cakebread not (since they're using neutral oak and going for a different style).

would especially love new contenders from Santa Barbara and Paso.

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Perhaps Hanna or Rochioli from Alexander and Russian River Valley. Both are crisp and citrusy.

I also like Honig's base Sauvignon Blanc; it's crisp and bright but I'm not sure if they use some oak or not.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Perhaps Hanna or Rochioli from Alexander and Russian River Valley.  Both are crisp and citrusy.

I also like Honig's base Sauvignon Blanc; it's crisp and bright but I'm not sure if they use some oak or not.

thanks! i'll check out Hanna and Rochioli. already have Honig on the way; they said it's all stainless.

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what about joel gott? iirc, there's a very small amount of oak, but i'm very sensitive to it, too, and it's not at all objectionable to me. or brander "au naturel"(sp?) from santa barbara?

Oooh, thanks for pointing these out. I didn't know about either of them.

Here are some links re: some background info on these producers and their crisp, un-oaked s.blancs:

Joel Gott (Napa)

and

Brander Vineyards (Santa Ynez Valley)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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For a crisp, clean, bright and vibrant SB with wonderful grapefruit tones, I'm still reeling from the 2004 Gary Farrell Sonoma County - Redwood Ranch SB. This one is relatively pale and sees very little oak. I like SB but don't go out of my way for them. Nor do I believe in spending over $20 dollars for one but there, even at $24 I thought it was fantastic. They have it for sale though it isn't showing on their website yet.

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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what about joel gott? iirc, there's a very small amount of oak, but i'm very sensitive to it, too, and it's not at all objectionable to me. or brander "au naturel"(sp?) from santa barbara?

thanks! the Brander is already on the way.

while i'm a big fan of most of what Joel Gott makes, i'm just not a fan of his SB. the fruit in it doesn't really pop out to me.

and thanks too for the Gary Farrell. i'll take a look for it, but i've set a pretty firm cap at $20 for these. have already written off a couple because of that.

Edited by jbonne (log)
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i'd like to make one more suggestion. it's not a sauvignon blanc, but it fits much the same flavor profile. my house white this spring (and probably into the summer) is a pinot grigio from mendocino county's mcfadden farms (potter valley, near ukiah, east of the 101). it's from a very limited production, only available so far online or by phone. the producer is a guy named guinness mcfadden (not a joke) who has been one of hte biggest grape growers in mendo for many years (organic), but who has always sold his grapes (navarro, etc). the wine is very crisp, very citrusy, very clean with a nice herbaceousness that resembles in effect that distinctive note in nz sbs. best of all, it's like $13 a bottle before case or half-case discounts.

800-544-8230

http://www.mcfaddenfarm.com/policies.html

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i'd like to make one more suggestion. it's not a sauvignon blanc, but it fits much the same flavor profile. my house white this spring (and probably into the summer) is a pinot grigio from mendocino county's mcfadden farms (potter valley, near ukiah, east of the 101).

thanks -- outside the parameters of this piece, but i'll keep it in mind for the future ...

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what about joel gott? iirc, there's a very small amount of oak, but i'm very sensitive to it, too, and it's not at all objectionable to me. or brander "au naturel"(sp?) from santa barbara?

while i'm a big fan of most of what Joel Gott makes, i'm just not a fan of his SB. the fruit in it doesn't really pop out to me.

FYI, it's not just a small amount of oak, but none at all (at least in the soon to be released vintage). Stainless tanks all the way.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here is a recent write up in the SF Chron about another steel tank Sauvignon Blanc click. It's blended with some Semillon as well so it will have a different mouthfeel than the 100% s.blancs.

If your tastes lean toward racy, herbal- scented Sauvignon Blancs from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, grab the 2004 Wildhurst Lake County Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ($10) from the county north of Napa. Made in stainless steel tanks to preserve its citrusy freshness, then blended with a dash of Semillon to add a bit of lushness, this wine is distinctive and stylish. Though the packaging is elegant enough to make an impressive gift, the twist-off top makes this an easy wine to open and enjoy.

Here's the link to the winery: wildhurst winery

Not sure if this is another wine or if the Chron got the name a little different but the winery lists and describes this Clear Lake Sauvignon Blanc 2004 Reserve

Our Sauvignon Blanc is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel, preserving the lush aromas and fruit flavors that develop during Lake County's short, warm growing season. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc with a splash of Semillon creates intense concentrated grapefruit and lime peel freshness. Intense and vibrant tangerine, gooseberry and lush herbs with a crisp, edgy finish.

This wine won Double Gold, Best of Class for the 2005 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (1/30/05).

Burch, winemaker

Alcohol 13.8%

Residual Sugar .26%

pH 3.31

TA .79

Fermentation 100% Stainless

Aging potential of wine 2 years

Bottle price: $11.00

Case price: $112.20

Size: 750ml

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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