In the eighteen years that we have been holding these tastings, we have never put Sauvignon Blancs from California side-by-side for blind comparison. Why have we skipped this category of wines? No idea, but I doubt that we will wait too long to try these again, since we were very happy with the results, showing lots of diversity, value, and pleasure.
Overall, these were not expensive wines, maxing out at this table at $23, with the least expensive at $13. There was much to enjoy within that price range, with typical Sauvignon Blanc flavors of citrus and grass, but also exuberant notions of tropical fruits paired with supportive acids. Sonoma County (and the appellations within it) featured prominently this night, but the bottles did not come off as too similar or monotonous. All were fresh, and from recent vintages.
Only one point separated the first-place bottle from the second, and all bottles received at least one point. Our top three wines were all estate grown.
First Place: Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (Chalk Hill). Complex nose suggesting fresh cut grass, bananas, wet leaves, damp air, wet wool, raspberries, blackberries, flowers, lemon-lime, mushrooms, and cooked apricots. This was darker, perhaps autumnal, like something savory or fish sauce. Ali was reminded of a "plate of oysters with the seaweed." More like tropical fruit on the palate, such as guava and mango, but also currant and eucalyptus. A bare hint of oak on the finish, suggesting toasted marshmallow. Concentrated. A fall or winter white wine, and a white wine for red wine drinkers. Ali and David's favorite of the night, with a total of 28 points. David's bottle. About $23.
Second Place: Foppiano Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (Russian River Valley). Very clear in the glass, with a hint of green color. Smelled green, like parsley and other chopped up herbs, plus limes, white grapefruit, nectarines, green guava, and wet limestone. Tasters found flavors of lemon meringue, along with plenty of acidity. Pretty. Slightly buttery/toasty/vanilla on the finish. Kristin described this as "a crowd pleaser." Angy P, Resa, and Andy R's favorite, with a total of 27 points. Andy P's bottle. About $19.
Third Place: Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (Rutherford). Green scents, reminiscent of algae, unripe fruit, furikake, fresh herbs, freshly mown lawn, and bell pepper. Youthful and vibrant, showing some aromas of yogurt and nectarine. Plenty of acidity, supporting flavors of white peach and citrus. Bright and happy, with a long finish that turns more tropical, and an easygoing texture. Bright and friendly. Kristin's favorite. 14 total points. Resa's bottle. About $21.
Dry Creek Fumé Blanc 2021 (Sonoma County). Bright nose featuring scents of banana, pixie sticks, gooseberry, red grapefruit, limes, mango, and other tropical fruit. Smelled similar to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh and vibrant. Mango flavors, along with lots of acidity, staying alive in the mouth, and turning to pineapple, cherry, and guava. Andy R felt that it had "almost a sparkle to it that feels electric", while Andy P noted that it was "almost like a Sweet Tart." Resa was reminded of "a school bus in the summer, hot in the back." 10 points. Andy R's bottle. About $16.
Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc Charlotte's Home 2021 (Sonoma County). Notions of cinnamon on the nose reminded Ali of "Red Hots", while other tasters found tropical fruit, such as passionfruit and canned lychee, or the juice in a fruit cup. A hint of cooked plantain. More mysterious, seemingly richer, with a hint of Creamsicle or Fruit Stripe gum. That creaminess continued in the mouth, along with a little vanilla and canned pears. More mouthcoating in texture, but also suggested something artificial. Ali was unimpressed, noting that "the flavors make me angry, they're so fake." 4 points. Kristin's bottle. About $13.
Honig Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (66% Napa County, 34% Lake County). Andy R was reminded of "Bazooka gum wrapper" on the nose, while Andy P detected "a lime on the edge of bitterness." Resa felt that this was a "notice me" wine. Scents of lime zest, cornstarch, and wet rock. Showed focus and intensity, but not super complex. Tasted like it smelled, but also parmesan cheese, pineapple, and caramelized banana at the end. A straight shot through the mouth. Not bad, but not very complex. 1 point from Kristin. Ali's bottle. About $23.