(Editorial Interlude: There are recurring discussions on various internet wine forums regarding the aggressive nature of many Sauvignon Blancs, and the descriptors thereof. How can ANYONE enjoy something that tastes and smells like "cat pee," "cat spray," "cat box" or "sweaty armpit," you may ask? Some of the more discreet commentators prefer to use the term "boxwood" to describe the varietal's pungent qualities, but if you've ever gotten a whiff of this shrub, then you know it smells an awful lot like cat pee. I'm an unabashed fan of this style, as opposed to the more oak driven Californian Chardonnay wannabe, and I tend to seek out examples of such. So, if some of these notes may seem redundant, oftentimes the main differences in these particular wines tend to be in the intensity of specific attributes. And, if said notes are starting to sound the least bit similar, I'd suggest that the esteemed readership dial up
where you will instead find such qualities described as "buttered popcorn," vanilla fudge" and "concrete blond." )
1998 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($11.99, 12.5% alc.): Cat spray dominates the grapefruit nose of this medium straw, with a hint of pine to boot. The bold flavors echo with some added lime/mineral on a crisp frame that has nevertheless toned down in the past several months. It finishes long and is a very nice glass of Sauvignon for the money.
1999 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($10, 13% alc.): Another medium straw with essentially the same characteristics as the '98, except... The searing acidity makes this almost painful to drink at this point; even I have to agree with Kim that it gives the wine a sour quality. (She also mentioned a note of butter in the flavor, not the texture, and I wouldn't disagree.) Perhaps this is why the fruit seems a little less intense than that of the previous vintage, and the finish a bit shorter. Whatever the case, it is certainly a good wine at a good price; it just needs some time in the cellar. Give it a year or so.
1998 Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc Groenekloof ($12.99, 13.5% alc.): This medium bodied medium straw South African Sauvignon shows dominant sweaty armpit over grapefruit/mineral on the nose; the flavors accentuate the grapefruit, while the b.o. and mineral linger on the finish. Another solid, crisply acidic white that will benefit from a year or so in the cellar.
1998 Morton Estate Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay ($12.99, 12.5 alc.): Another Kiwi number, this medium straw-pale gold exhibits a grapefruit/citrus/mineral nose with a hint of white concord as well; the fruit and mineral wrestle back and forth for dominance. But, it's all grapefruit and green apple on the palate, and while it's not as crisp and acidic as expected, it's not fat or flabby either. As it opens in the glass, it takes on a slightly floral nuance, but it finishes somewhat short and lacks the fullness of fruit that one might hope for. Not in the same league as the rest here.
1997 Brander Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99, 13% alc.): Like the Goldwater Dogbreath, this is another on that didn't live up to its recommendation. Pale gold, with a reticent nose and grapefruit/pear flavors and aromas shaded by some oak and a certain sherry-like aspect (but it didn't seem to be oxidized), this isn't as zippy as it could be, but it isn't flat either. It's a little thin from the midpalate on back, and while it's not bad, I'm not going back.
1998 Flora Springs Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc Estate ($11.99, 13% alc.): A pale straw with a pale nose, especially after a glass of the Babich; there's not much here, just a slight funky sewer odor that mostly blows off to reveal..., not much! The flavors are a little more generous, featuring a butterscotch over pear profile with an open sewer somewhere out back that's a bit of a detraction. There's some decent concentration here, but this is a bit fat, oily and fairly low in acid. I wish this were as nice as its label; just not my kind of Sauvignon.
1998 Markham Napa Sauvignon Blanc ($10.99, 13% alc.): We loved the Markham Sauvignons circa '92-'96, but the last couple of vintages from this producer have been a real letdown. The '98 is a medium straw with a straightforward citrus/pear nose that doesn't exactly jump out of the glass at you. The flavors echo and expand with a note of fig, and while pleasant enough, are not particularly distinctive. It seems a little flat, and the low acidity certainly adds to that impression. Another one we won't be buying again any time soon.
1999 Kunde Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc Magnolia Lane ($12.99, 13.6% alc., 77% Sauvignon Blanc, 19% Semillon, 4% Viognier): Pale to the point of being almost neutral in color, this shows a pretty bouquet featuring grapefruit/lemon/cat spray/pine needles and even a little garlic. The flavors expand on these with an added note of fig, and if it loses just a little intensity from the midpalate on back, it's not enough to be a serious detraction. With enough acidity to keep it lively, this is a nice bright Sauvignon.
Till next time . . .
Back to: Sauvignon 2000
1999 Babich Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
1998 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre
1998 Herve Seguin Pouilly-
1997 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre
1998 Serge Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume "Les Pentes"
1998 Goldwater Dogpoint Sauvignon
1998 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc
1999 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc
1998 Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc Groenekloof
1998 Morton Estate Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay
1997 Brander Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc
1998 Flora Springs Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc Estate
1998 Markham Napa Sauvignon Blanc
1999 Kunde Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc Magnolia Lane