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Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

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Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jun 01, 2023 9:30 am

Sauvignon Blanc. What can I say? It's one of the most famous grapes in the world. It's certainly one of the big 3 white grapes, alongside Chardonnay and Riesling. It's also quite easy to recognize, as it has some very distinctive characteristics, even if they shift depending on where it's grown. Sauvignon Blanc from it's ancestral home in the Loire is a very different wine from Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand. Is Cotat the benchmark, or is it now Cloudy Bay?

Lots to unpack regarding SB (and yes, those initials conjure the thoughts of Otho and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in my mind...not good), and the weather is definitely white wine friendly in the Northern Hemisphere right now.

Grab a glass and let's talk Sauvignon Blanc.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Jenise » Thu Jun 01, 2023 8:09 pm

I look forward to this! Haven't opened a bottle of since Monday, but will again soon. Just got a six pack of Massican, btw.

Before I open anything though, in reading your intro mentioning SB, Chardonnay and Riesling, I couldn't help but think about the fact that you and I both love chardonnay, but I love SB where you especially love Riesling. I don't hate Riesling, but I don't crave it. You do, while I crave SB. Others I know tend to be similar--chardonnay's always good, but after there's usually a strong preference for SB, not riesling, or the other way around.

Wonder what in our respective DNA's creates that kind of preference.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Rahsaan » Thu Jun 01, 2023 9:13 pm

Jenise wrote:...there's usually a strong preference for SB, not riesling, or the other way around.

Wonder what in our respective DNA's creates that kind of preference.


That is interesting. So you're suggesting that people tend to have strong preferences either for SB or for Riesling, but not both. I'm sure some people like both, but my immediate reaction is that you may be onto something with this divide.

Maybe science will uncover the answer!
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jun 01, 2023 9:35 pm

My issue with SB is that even with the wines that are supposedly not “grassy” I still pick up an overwhelming green note. Blends can mask it, but straight SB hits me the wrong way. The aroma of celery also repels me. I wonder if there’s some link.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Rahsaan » Thu Jun 01, 2023 10:55 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:My issue with SB is that even with the wines that are supposedly not “grassy” I still pick up an overwhelming green note. Blends can mask it, but straight SB hits me the wrong way. The aroma of celery also repels me. I wonder if there’s some link.


Yes, and I think people who don't like Riesling react to its herbaceous qualities, although in a different way. Not sure what the underlying chemical trigger would be. Something like the cilantro/soap thing, and people can only have one predisposition.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jun 02, 2023 8:47 am

I think more of the Riesling dislike is the notable residual sugar in some wines. That turns into the "all Riesling is sweet" meme.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Rahsaan » Fri Jun 02, 2023 10:05 am

David M. Bueker wrote:I think more of the Riesling dislike is the notable residual sugar in some wines. That turns into the "all Riesling is sweet" meme.


Yes, that's definitely a big part of it. But there's also a distinctive character to Riesling that is probably a stronger varietal stamp than with Chardonnay, and it doesn't click for some people.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Jenise » Fri Jun 02, 2023 12:05 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
That is interesting. So you're suggesting that people tend to have strong preferences either for SB or for Riesling, but not both. I'm sure some people like both, but my immediate reaction is that you may be onto something with this divide.



Exactly. Of course I know people who like both. Bill Spohn for instance, likes both. BUT--he buys Riesling. I like both, but I buy Sauvignon Blanc. I love everything green in the produce department, Bill doesn't. By the way, once upon a time I was like David. I remember my first taste of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. YUCK! I was at a wine gig in Alaska with my wine mentor and he was quite surprised by my reaction. I hated 'grassy'. But now? The more feral the better. Bring on the celery.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Jenise » Fri Jun 02, 2023 12:09 pm

Last night we opened a disappointing 2020 Henri Bourgeois Les Monts Damnes Sancerre. I had this once before about a year ago and this bottle was nothing like the first. It was very plain, stripped of all that gooseberry intensity. It got better the longer it was open, but only a little. Sad.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jun 02, 2023 7:03 pm

That really sounds like low level TCA.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Jun 04, 2023 10:09 am

Just getting my notes together after a BC Clos du Soleil tasting here in town with the winery owner Michael Clark. Situated in Cawston, appellation is Similkameen Valley. My fave white without a doubt was the 2018 Pinot Gris, TN to follow elsewhere.

2022 Clos du Soleil Fume Blanc.

Pale lemon in color, aromas of peach and blossoms. 74% SB and 26% Semillon. Plenty of grapefruit and lemon on the palate, overall a nice dry wine but not a huge fan of this wine.

2020 Capella.

77/23% and 9 months in oak. Note the malo fermentation. Pale lemon in color, apricot/peach aromas. On the plate attendees noted medium zesty citrus, lemon/lime, blossoms, grass/hay, honey (??). Well crafted wine here, some age will be of interest. Memorable finish.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Tim York » Sun Jun 04, 2023 4:16 pm

Jenise wrote:
Rahsaan wrote:
That is interesting. So you're suggesting that people tend to have strong preferences either for SB or for Riesling, but not both. I'm sure some people like both, but my immediate reaction is that you may be onto something with this divide.



Exactly. Of course I know people who like both. Bill Spohn for instance, likes both. BUT--he buys Riesling. I like both, but I really LOVE Sauvignon Blanc like I love everything green in the produce department and I buy a lot of both. By the way, once upon a time I was like Dave. I remember my first taste of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. YUCK! I was at a wine gig in Alaska with my wine mentor and he was quite surprised by my reaction. I hated 'grassy'. But now? The more feral the better. Bring on the celery.


This is an interesting discussion. Both Riesling and SB have strong varietal character. I like wines from both, but I am more inclined to love Riesling for its fragrance, the refinement of its aromas, its versatility and sheer class at its best. Exhilarating and bracing though SB can be, there is something about its grapefruit, gooseberry and grassiness which can pall, which I never find with Riesling nor with Chenin. The only SB derived wines which in my experience have gone beyond these characteristics and show real class have been from the two Cotat estates at Sancerre and some blends with Sémillon from Bordeaux. Nevertheless I quite often buy lesser Loire basin SB wines like Reuilly, Quincy and Menetou-Salon as well as more pricey Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé because they pair well with seafood dishes. With mussels yesterday we had a Saint-Bris, which AFAIK is the only appellation in Burgundy with SB as its sole grape.

2021 Clotilde Davenne Saint-Bris - France, Burgundy, Côtes d'Auxerre, Saint-Bris (02/06/2023)
I like the Saint-Bris from this estate. The varietal origin of this wine is clear but not in your face like some others. Like in previous vintages, there is pale colour, expressive nose showing gooseberry and citrus tinged aromatics, a medium/light refreshing palate with nice purity of fruit, crisp moreish acidity, minerals and some saline backbone. Good+
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by David M. Bueker » Sun Jun 04, 2023 7:53 pm

Interesting that you mention Bordeaux, as I generally enjoy Semillon based wines even if they have a healthy dose of SB. I should experiment further.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Tim York » Mon Jun 05, 2023 1:08 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Interesting that you mention Bordeaux, as I generally enjoy Semillon based wines even if they have a healthy dose of SB. I should experiment further.


Some of the more prestigious white Bordeaux show quite heavy new wood, particularly when young from sources like Magrez, e.g. Pape-Clément.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Jun 05, 2023 3:42 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Interesting that you mention Bordeaux, as I generally enjoy Semillon based wines even if they have a healthy dose of SB. I should experiment further.

To be honest, I am more interested in looking for Semillon from the Okanagan. Now, there is some fun stuff going on.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by David M. Bueker » Tue Jun 06, 2023 7:42 pm

Somewhere I have a single bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the cellar. I could not find it tonight, so went with a wine that has 25% SB.

2021 Massican Idlewild - USA, California, Napa Valley (6/6/2023)
Six months of cellar time has knitted together this unusual blend. White peach, warm hay, fresh herbs, and a dash of lime zest are backed up by bright acidity, and a salty, mouthwatering finish. There’s 25% Sauvignon Blanc in this blend (along with Tocai Friulano, Chardonnay and Malvasia), but despite it being my least favorite white grape, it doesn’t stick out in the blend. That’s fine with me!
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Tim York » Wed Jun 07, 2023 4:11 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Somewhere I have a single bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the cellar. I could not find it tonight, so went with a wine that has 25% SB.

2021 Massican Idlewild - USA, California, Napa Valley (6/6/2023)
Six months of cellar time has knitted together this unusual blend. White peach, warm hay, fresh herbs, and a dash of lime zest are backed up by bright acidity, and a salty, mouthwatering finish. There’s 25% Sauvignon Blanc in this blend (along with Tocai Friulano, Chardonnay and Malvasia), but despite it being my least favorite white grape, it doesn’t stick out in the blend. That’s fine with me!


Perhaps I should open a Sauternes. :lol: There is 20%+ SB in most of these. The eternal problem with this delicious wine type is finding a suitable pairing.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by David M. Bueker » Wed Jun 07, 2023 4:45 pm

Tim York wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:Somewhere I have a single bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the cellar. I could not find it tonight, so went with a wine that has 25% SB.

2021 Massican Idlewild - USA, California, Napa Valley (6/6/2023)
Six months of cellar time has knitted together this unusual blend. White peach, warm hay, fresh herbs, and a dash of lime zest are backed up by bright acidity, and a salty, mouthwatering finish. There’s 25% Sauvignon Blanc in this blend (along with Tocai Friulano, Chardonnay and Malvasia), but despite it being my least favorite white grape, it doesn’t stick out in the blend. That’s fine with me!


Perhaps I should open a Sauternes. :lol: There is 20%+ SB in most of these. The eternal problem with this delicious wine type is finding a suitable pairing.


I usually just sip them after dinner. Not a lot of foie gras in our household.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Peter May » Sat Jun 10, 2023 7:25 am

What can you say about Sauvignon Blanc?

It's amazing how it's come to such prominence. It was denigrated when I took formal wine classes. Chardonnay was the white. Then we got New Zealand's SBs coming into the country.

NZ SB is the only wine Mrs M buys. It's to ensure she has it when I serve fish on Friday. In the past I have opened other dry whites but the reaction has meant the only way to restore harmony was to rinse out the glasses and open a NZ SB.

So, last night we had
2022 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin (New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough)

On opening, we got that wonderful pungent mix of new mown grass and gooseberry. Lots of attack on palate, tastes of gooseberries. Refreshing and drinkable, and all too soon finished.

Private Bin is the lowest - and cheapest of their quality levels.

Mrs M has a affinity with Villa Maria. We've been to the winery and had our last NZ lunches there before flying. The winery is very close to Auckland airport*. One lunch was with Sue Courtney, late of this parish and her husband. And we shared a table one lunch in London with the founder and then owner of Villa Maria, Sir George Fistonich and his wife Lady Gail.

Sir George had to sell Villa Maria and we thought the wine wasn't as good afterwards but it's come back to its previous quality.

*if you're puzzling over geography, the winery is on the North Island, the grapes are grown in Marlborough on the South Island so they are trucked and ferried north after picking.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Jenise » Sat Jun 10, 2023 11:02 am

Peter, the sister of the current owner of Santa Maria lives in my neck of the woods (literally, about 4 miles away). That connection insures there's a lot of it around; and a bunch of it shows up in close-out situations from time to time but generally those are only the entry level stuff. I recall visiting the winery and falling in love with a single vineyard from Clifford Bay--or at least, Clifford-something--that was remarkable. I've run into it 2 or 3 times in the U.S. in the 20 years since--always remarkable. Anyway, I don't find the entry level stuff to be as back to their former glory as you do, but then my palate has evolved and my expectations are likely higher now. Perhaps it's me who changed. Certainly not in the same category for my tastes as Craggy Range and Greywacke, which are quite common here.

2021 Serge Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Les Pentes Sauvignon Blanc
On the nose an unusual but harmonious blend of sweet and savory hit at once: lime leaf, white flowers, green fig and fresh bay leaf. The midpalate flavors lasted so long that they masked the acidity on the finish, which was there just hiding. The whole experience was ethereal--and total love at first sight for me. Outstanding and good value at $27.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Peter May » Sun Jun 11, 2023 5:58 am

Jenise wrote:Peter, the sister of the current owner of Santa Maria lives in my neck of the woods Certainly not in the same category for my tastes as Craggy Range and Greywacke, which are quite common here.


Did you mean Santa or Villa? The current owner of Villa Maria is a company called Indevin.

Villa Maria's Private Bin is not in the same cost band as Greywacke or Craggy Range, but some of Villa Maria's more expensive SBs are.

I didn't care for Greywacke when I tasted it at Cloudy Bay poured by it's maker Kevin Judd as it was unlike the really intense 'in your face' SBs, and I haven't bought it since.

Craggy Range make good wines, but my favourite top end SBs come from St Clair, especially their numbered block bottlings.

But Mrs M now buys our SBs.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Jenise » Sun Jun 11, 2023 11:19 am

I misspoke. Former owner, not current, and yes Villa Maria.

Depends on the vintage, but Greywacke is typically quite intense where Craggy Range is more elegant.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Tim York » Sun Jun 18, 2023 8:03 am

I can find strangely little information by Googling about this producer (not to be confused with the two famous Cotat estates at Sancerre). His wines are frequently stocked by a local supermarket and I have found previous vintages of both this cuvée and a Sancerre to be worthy representatives of their appellations at reasonable prices (€8-12). This is one of my first 2022s from any region (a lot of hype in Bordeaux!). At present it is not as enjoyable as its predecessors.


2022 Patient Cottat Menetou-Salon Cuvée Sélectionnée - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Menetou-Salon (17/06/2023)
I enjoyed the 2020 version of this cuvée but I find this 2022 more bland with less varietal typicity to its fruit and less minerality, but with enough freshness and underlying roundness to be an adequate pairing with an espadon (swordfish) steak. Could it be that it is still too young to be showing its character? Quite good.
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Re: Wine Focus June 2023 - Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

by Jenise » Mon Jun 26, 2023 7:17 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:
2022 Clos du Soleil Fume Blanc.

Pale lemon in color, aromas of peach and blossoms. 74% SB and 26% Semillon. Plenty of grapefruit and lemon on the palate, overall a nice dry wine but not a huge fan of this wine.


Total agreement. Very drinkable, just not particularly interesting. Would not buy again.
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