California Sauvignon Blanc
In August I compared two wines made with Sauvignon Blanc from France and New Zealand. I've decided to continue the series with California! Sauvignon Blanc probably isn't the first wine you think of when California is mentioned, but the coastal regions are actually cool enough to create ideal growing conditions for the grape. The style can range from aromatic, crisp wines to ripe, oak aged versions that have some vanilla, toast, or coconut nuances. I chose to taste a wine from each side of the spectrum.
Santa Barbara Winery Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014
This winery is located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara and is the coolest wine region in California. During the summer months, the intense heat of the Mojave desert pulls cold air from the ocean into the Santa Ynez Valley, so both days and nights are cool throughout the growing season.
When pondering this post, I didn't actually intend to write about drastic styles of Sauvignon Blanc within California until I tasted this wine. I wasn't expecting it to have elements of oak because in California that style is often referred to as Fume Blanc, which didn't appear on the label of this wine. Upon reading the back label, I learned that a portion of the blend is fermented in oak. It was a delightful surprise however, because this was really delicious. It showed notes of peach, guava, mango, and lemon with a floral character and notes of vanilla and coconut. It's refined and more subtle than many Sauvignon Blanc typically are and a good value at $16.00.
I opened and tasted it as I made a butternut squash risotto last night. It paired really nicely with the hearty dish and proved that it can be a great white wine for winter! How I managed to make a stellar risotto whilst chasing after a 2 year old, cleaning up after him, keeping him away from the stovetop, and getting him in his pjs is a mystery even to me. Another SomMOMlier win, I suppose.
Tortoise Creek Sauvignon Blanc "Cuvee Jeane" 2014
A stark contrast to Santa Barbara Winery, this wine is very crisp, fruity, and aromatic. The grapes used for this wine are from two distinct areas within the Central Coast of California: Monterey and Paso Robles. Both areas have a lot of sunlight, but Monterey provides contrasting temperatures of cool nights and warm days while Paso Robles is much warmer overall and is cooled by fog. Blending wines from the two subregions gives the wine more depth and I personally found characteristics from both cool and warm climate Sauvignon Blanc in this wine.
It expressed pronounced notes of white peach, pineapple, passion fruit, grass, lemon juice, and a green and white pepper finish. The acidity and fruitiness are balanced very well, making it very refreshing! This wine will definitely be reappearing in my hand this summer, probably a few times considering the price of $12.00!
California has so many dynamic wine regions that I could write about them every day. On a related note, I'm really liking these series posts. Are there any grape varieties that you'd like to explore further like we did with Sauvignon Blanc? Let me know here or on social media (@thesommomlier on Instagram and Twitter).