Wednesday, June 11, 2014

California Whites: Anything But Chardonnay

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Summer and California white wine is always a good pairing.

I was quite impressed with this lot of Anything But Chardonnay (ABC) samples from California. From Albariño to Sauvignon Blanc, these wines would all work well as summer party sippers, although the standouts are complex and food-friendly enough to deserve a long, contemplative meal.

All wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind as part of a report for the daily wine blog Terroirist.
SRP: $20
Very pale straw color. Nose bursts with ruby red grapefruit, lemon-lime and notes of lavender and baby’s breath, all combining in aromatic bliss. Very fresh and lively with tangy acid and a moderately creamy mouthfeel. Focused and elegant, with grapefruit and white peach flavors. Slight orange blossom and a spicy-floral tone that reminds me of baby’s breath. Such a clean wine, but it doesn’t lack depth or flavor by any means. Only 12% alcohol. (89 points)

2012 McGah Family Cellars Sauvignon Blanc “1070 Green” - California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
SRP: $25
Light gold color. Aromas of lemon-lime, grapefruit, oceanic notes and just a hint of grass and sprouts. Creamy body but zippy acid on the palate. Green pear and ruby red grapefruit mixes with lots of mineral and limestone notes. Crisp, clean, but impressive depth, with notes of honeycomb and wax on the finish. (89 points)

2009 Cornerstone Cellars Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $50
Clean lemon color. Green melon, lime and sea breeze on the nose, a bit of white pepper and floral notes. Crisp and tangy throughout, I get themes of lime, honeydew melon, white peach, but also underlying spice and sea brine notes, which I like. A lot of depth to this wine, equal parts creamy fruit and live-wire acid and minerals. Complex, and very delicious, begging for oysters, salads, goat cheese. I was surprised to see it’s a 2009 because, if anything, I thought this could stand a year or two. Impressive stuff. (90 points)

2010 Cornerstone Cellars Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $50
A bright lemon-lime color in the glass. So fresh, smells of grapefruit, lemon peel, green melon, a bit of underlying honey, some sweet basil and limestone notes. Creamy body but tart and refreshing acid. Rich and honeyed, but so fresh, with lemon, apricot, white peach, and a lovely mix of mountain stream, minerals, sea shells and white flowers. Clean, but long and complex. (90 points)

2011 Cornerstone Cellars Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $30
Medium lemon colored. Aromas of honeydew melon, ruby red grapefruit, apricot as well as a hint of sweet basil and crushed rocks. Tangy acid lines up with some richness on the body, and the result is a bold but balanced wine. Flavors of lemon pie, apricot and honeydew mix well with sea shell, mineral and floral notes. A hint of wax and nutshell on the finish. Bold but complex and lively. Fermented in stainless steel but aged in old oak, and I like the result a lot. (90 points)

2012 Vineyard 29 Sauvignon Blanc “Cru” - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $54
A light straw-green color. Very floral on the nose (honeysuckle, citrus blossom, potpourri spice) along with a parsley note. Tangy citrus peel (grapefruit, nectarine, lime) mixes with a white peach and pineapple fruit. I get this salted lime margarita element as well, and it kicks. Crisp but deep, with a bunch of complex mineral, honey and floral tones. Very elegant stuff, showing a lot of complexity. Long, mineral-driven finish with sea brine and oyster shell. Wow, this reaches that next level of excellence that few Napa Sauv Blancs do (for my palate). The wine sees a mix of old and new French oak, concrete and stainless steel. My second vintage of this wine, tasted blind, and I’m officially a huge fan. (93 points)

2012 Alta Maria Sauvignon Blanc - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $18
Pale straw color. Grapefruit, lime zest, rosemary and green onion aromas. Tangy acid rips across the palate of this medium-bodied wine. Flavors mirror the aromas, but a bit of creamy peach and green melon rind as well. The grass and herbal flavors aren’t too strong, and I also get some honeysuckle. Great cut to this wine. Not very deep, but quality juice. (86 points)

2012 Foppiano Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $15
Very pale straw color. Lemon, grapefruit and sea shells on the nose, a hint of green herbs. Crisp and clean acid, a zingy mouthfeel. Green apple peel and lemon mix with a hint of apricot. I also get sea breeze, limestone and a hint of green onion. Straightforward stuff, but well-done. (86 points)

2012 Nico Fiano Tanya’s Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $25
A yellow-gold color. Floral aromas, some white peach, papaya and sea salt. Creamy on the palate, with flavors of pineapple, orange marmalade and honey butter. But the wine is also really zesty, with notes of orange peel, mussel shell and sea salt. The combination is a tropical yet oceanic wine that’s very complex. From a single vineyard in the RRV, I love the unique interpretation of a unique variety. (89 points)

2012 Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Blanc - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $27
Medium yellow color. Lovely aromatic mix of spice (white pepper, sage) and flowers (orange blossom, honeysuckle), along with notes of sea salt, white tea and limestone. Generously fleshy texture but medium acid throughout. A beautiful sense of purity and freshness pervades this wine. Flavors of apricot, green melon, white peach and lychee are accented by nutshell, lemon oil, honeyed tea and lots of different floral notes. Very pretty, and so food-friendly. A blend of 34% Viognier, 30% Marsanne, 30% Grenache Blanc and 6% Roussanne. (90 points)

2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard Albariño Kristy Vineyard & Jespersen Ranch - California, Central Coast
SRP: $18
A straw-banana peel color. The nose is a fresh combination of honeysuckle, white peach, also some oyster shell and sea breeze notes. Clean acid and a plump but balanced mouthfeel. The green apple, lime, apricot and papaya notes are fresh and tangy, backed up by mountain stream, mineral and a slight green tea note. Very brisk and refreshing (13.2% alcohol) a beautiful summer sipper but enough complexity and length to keep it really interesting. (89 points)

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