Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc 2007

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California is not known for sauvignon blanc, and what it does produce gets very mixed reviews. Seemingly unable to find a niche, like New Zealand and its zesty citrus driven SB’s or Sancerre and its mineral-laced wines, many California wineries treat Sauvignon Blanc too much like chardonnay. What this means is too much oak and too much opulence for a wine that should be acidic and refreshing. With all the sun that the state gets, however, it can be tough to find the right balance. Spottswoode, a Napa producer known more for their elegant Cabernet Sauvignons, is one of the few that gets it right.

How do they do it? First of all, this wine sees only a brief touch of oak, and is picked relatively early in the growing season. Instead of dominant oak, this is fermented in steel vats and concrete eggs, the former allowing the natural acidities of the wine to show and the latter making the fruit rounder and lusher without the flavour profile that oak imparts. The final result? A wine with tons of citrus fruit on the nose, but also grass, stone and clay. The palate is wonderfully full bodied, but also amazingly spritely given the intensity of the fruit. The finish is long and clay-like, suggesting this wine could find a place between New Zealand and Sancerre. And, what did it taste like? Orange, grapefruit, stone, and a slight edge of that distinctive cat’s pee taste SB fans know and love. This is a wine that lifts the palate upwards before drawing it back into a carefully structured and lengthy climax, and is perhaps my favourite Sauvignon Blanc from the US. Woth every penny.

$54 at Marquis


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