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More Sauvignon Blancs !


SELENE
The Selene label is that of winemaker Mia Klein.  She's worn a lot of winemaking hats, being affiliated with wineries such as Etude, Dalla Valle, Chappellet, Robert Pepi Fisher Vineyards, Araujo, Spottswoode Viader and Bressler Vineyards.  Mia has an active business as a "winemaking consultant," you see, in addition to producing her own wine under the Selene banner.

Her Sauvignon Blanc comes from the famous Hyde Vineyards in Carneros.  This vineyard features a special clone of Sauvignon called Musqué.  It's said to be less vegetative in fragrance and flavor and more fruity: think tangy nectarine and grapefruit.  

She's been making this for 20+ vintages and has recently employed an interesting technique for the fermentation.  Mia starts the fermentation with a particular yeast culture and introduces another culture part way through to finish.  She calls this "sequential fermentation" and it's an effort to make the wine even more complex.  
Ms. Klein gives the wine a bit of wood, but it's not the predominant character of the wine.   Some of the juice goes into oak and some into stainless steel.  All remains on the lees for several months to give the wine more richness and dimension.  

Selene Sauvignon is fairly full and intense, so pairing it with well-seasoned white meats or seafood is ideal.  The 2014 is superb...I've shared bottles of previous vintages with visiting winemakers from Europe who have been "wowed" by this wine.

Currently in stock: 2014 Selene Sauvignon Blanc (List $25)  SALE  $19.99

 

THE OJAI VINEYARD
2014 Santa Barbara County  Sauvignon Blanc Sold Out
Adam Tolmach is one of the leading winemakers in the Santa Barbara County area.  Never mind that his winery is actually located in neighboring Ventura County.

Adam has made Sauvignon Blanc for many years.  More than a decade ago the wine had a substantial percentage of Semillon and oak, his wines emulating some top white Bordeaux.  I'd say recent vintages have been more along the lines of Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé wines.

The grapes come from what was known as the Westerly vineyard, which is not in the western part of the Santa Ynez Valley but in the eastern portion of that appellation.  These days it's called The McGinley Vineyard.  Adam gets them to farm it the way he prefers, viewing the wine more as an artistic endeavor rather than as a hugely commercial one.  The production per acre is rather small, but it does allow the grape to shine and bring along with it some "terroir."  They've improved their general viticulture and now farm "organically," as we understand the current state of affairs.

The 2014 vintage is the current, recent release and, much like last year's wine, this is superb.  It's quite dry and has more of an herbal streak than citrus.  You can't mistake this for anything but Sauvignon Blanc.  That said, it's not a wine for the average wine drinker...it may actually put off some tasters since the character of the Sauvignon is rather intense.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


ALMA DE CATTLEYA  $17.99  2017 Sonoma County

 

 

HAGAFEN

Few California vintners pick their grapes at 21 or 22 degrees Brix (a measure of sugar).  For most, that's way too low, yielding a wine of merely 12 or 12.5% alcohol.  Everyone wants to make powerful wines...wines viewed as "important."

Winemaker Ernie Weir is an old-timer and he hasn't changed his style of winemaking to meet today's fashion for extreme wines, sweet wines or high-octane bottlings.

Another feature of the Hagafen winery is that the wines are Kosher.  This used to be THE major selling point for this brand many years ago.  But nobody makes a fuss over Colgate toothpaste or Comet cleanser being Kosher and today the sales pitch for Hagafen is more about the quality of the wine.  That they are Kosher is only incidental.  

On the other hand, making Kosher wines has its challenges:  a couple of important Jewish holidays tend to fall during the grape harvest, so Weir has to plan ahead for details such as picking and cellar work.  

Currently in stock:  HAGAFEN 2016 Napa SAUVIGNON BLANC  SALE $19.99

 

 

 


ROMBAUER

Oh my...Rombauer is now making Sauvignon Blanc!

And it's a perfectly serviceable white wine from Napa, but given how stylish their Chardonnay is, this wine may disappoint some consumers.

I'd have thought they use some new American oak for Sauvignon Blanc to make the wine really stand out in a crowd.  But it saw just 10% oak and they used seasoned, neutral French oak for this wine.

It's from the 2015 vintage and the wine displays mild Sauvignon Blanc fruit with a slightly citrusy quality. 
 
Currently in stock: 2015 ROMBAUER Napa Valley SAUVIGNON BLANC  Sold Out

 

 




CLOUDY BAY

cloudy_bay.gif (8876 bytes)This winery became an overnight success back in the mid-1980s on the strength of good wines and favorable reviews from some important critics. This winery is the leading name in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, though many New Zealanders are curious as to why the wine is SO popular these days, since they often  feel others do as fine a job with the grape. 

Well, when you're identified as the "best" (and the first), people tend to want to buy your wine. Imported to the U.S. market by the Clicquot Champagne folks, this wine has been sold, for the most part, to those establishments which manage to move a lot of Clicquot Champagne. 

They've ramped up production over the past decade and supply issues are possibly a thing of the past.

We like the Cloudy Bay wines and enjoy, from time to time, their Sauvignon Blanc. Some describe it as having the "gooseberry," citrus and lychee fragrances and flavors which are typical of New Zealand's Sauvignons.

 
 
 
The 2017 vintage was harvested over several weeks.  Most of the juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks, though they do give a tiny percentage of the production fermentation in seasoned (neutral) wood barrels.  They use some cultured yeasts to encourage a certain aromatic character and some indigenous yeasts to bring additional complexity to the wine.

It's the usual showy Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 


If you want the "unusual Cloudy Bay" Sauvignon, splurge and purchase a bottle of the 2014 Te Koko bottling.  

This comes from older vineyards and the 2014 vintage was harvested in less than a week.  The juice is fermented with indigenous yeasts (at the outset anyway, but they don't tell us if they add some cultured yeasts to ensure the fermentation is complete) and it's vinified in barrel with just 8% of the wooden being brand new.  
There's a bit of malolactic fermentation yet the acidity is still rather high, giving the wine a terrific, crisp finish.

Currently available: 2017 Sauvignon Blanc  SALE $29.99
2014 TE KOKO Sauvignon Blanc  Sale $64.99

 

TRIONE VINEYARDS & WINERY

The Trione family has been part of the Sonoma County wine scene for many decades.  

The family began in the early 1970s with investing in vineyards and around 1982 they owned a share of the Geyser Peak winery in Geyserville.  They bailed out of that headache in the late 1990s.

In 2005 they launched the Trione brand.  An old winery near Geyser Peak was purchased and soon they renovated the venerable Nervo facility and it now is home to the Trione wines.

The label they use for their wines is a bit retro, but their Sauvignon Blanc is quite up-to-date and modern.

The fruit comes from a Russian River vineyard site and they're proud to disclose they use a particular cultured yeast to ferment this wine.  And the 2014 vintage sings "Sauvignon" beautifully.  Four months in oak adds a further note of complexity.

They had actually "lost" the recipe for this with the 2013 vintage, so if you've only tasted that vintage, you should treat yourself to the 2014 or 2015.  

The 2014 wine is a gorgeous with an herbal tone backed by ripe melon and a touch of oak...it won the Sweepstakes award for white wines at the 2015 Sonoma County Harvest Fair.  That's a nice honor, for sure.  

The 2015 is relatively the same style and intensity.  Very fine.

The 2016 was a shade less interesting and the 2017, sadly, is a whole other ball of wax having candied fruit notes, little Sauvignon Blanc character and it's got some residual sugar!  

 

Currently in stock:  TRIONE 2015 Russian River Valley SAUVIGNON BLANC  $18.99

 

 

 

 

DOG POINT 

This lovely winery was founded by a couple of fellows who "graduated" from the University of Cloudy Bay in New Zealand's Marlborough country.

Winemaker James Healy and viticulture guru Ivan Sutherland (and their wives) launched this brand in the early 2000s.    They have about 80 hectares of grapes and produce four wines:  Two Sauvignon Blancs, a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir.

We have found recent vintages to be exceptional, particularly their upper-tier wine called Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc.

Vineyards are farmed organically and they started down this environmentally-conscious path in 2009.  They have some sort of certification, as well.    The company brings in more than 2000 sheep and a couple of dozen steers to "weed" their way through the vineyards in the winter.

Dog Point's vineyards are pruned to produce modest quantities as they don't go for maximum yields.  We know, for example, many Napa wineries make rather empty wines knowing the Napa appellation on the label gets them $20-$50 for Sauvignon Blanc even when the vineyards are severely over-cropped and the wines are rather anonymous in the glass.

Hand harvested fruit is part of the Dog Point protocol.  No machine harvesting.  

We have found the Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc to be quite striking and of exceptional quality.  

The fruit comes from a vineyard that was planted in 1992.  The grapes are whole-cluster pressed and the juice goes into older French oak cooperage for its fermentation and aging.  It spends about 18 months in wood and develops an exceptionally smoky, toasty, leesy quality which reminds us, to some extent, of the splendid Puligny Montrachets of Domaine Leflaive from Burgundy.  (Of course, yes, those are not made of Sauvignon Blanc...but if you like the style of Leflaive, you'll probably appreciate this Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc.)

Dog Point wines are not subjected to a fining treatment to clarify them and they employ but a light filtration.  

We have the 2014 in stock presently.  It's bone dry and lip-smacking crisp and tart.  

We recently met one of the offspring of the Dog Point founders and told her we routinely require any customer bringing this wine to the check-out counter to show their identification card to prove they're an adult.  She laughed, but the notion is this is not a wine for "kids" or people who drink a lot of the industrial plonk being made at the direction of a marketing department expert.  It's not "dumbed down" for the average bear.

It's really magnificent...serious Sauvignon Blanc for someone who's looking for a wine for contemplation and for pairing with serious cuisine.
If that sounds like you, please stop by and snag a bottle.

Currently in stock:  DOG POINT 2014 Marlborough "Section 94" SAUVIGNON BLANC  $35.99 

 

 

HOWARD PARK 

The Howard Park story began in 1986 with a fellow named John Wade who produced Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.  

These days the brand has grown considerably and its ownership has changed.  The Burch family owns Howard Park and they have vineyard holdings in Margaret River and about 3+ hours away by car in Great Southern Australia not far from the Denmark Agricultural College.

We've long been fans of their Shiraz wine from Margaret River and they seem to have dialed in the protocols for making a distinctive (and good) blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  This wine was first produced with the 2011 vintage.

We've had several vintages make the cut.

It's labeled as being from the Miamup vineyard.  Predominantly Sauvignon Blanc with a small amount of Semillon, the wine is fermented in stainless steel and seasoned French oak.  

We like the lemon and lime notes of the Sauvignon Blanc...gooseberry or citrus, however you wish to describe this, it's delicious.  

The alcohol level is also rather sensible...right around 13%.

 

Currently in stock:  HOWARD PARK 2016 Margaret River "Miamup" SAUVIGNON BLANC/SEMILLON  $22.99

 



SHARED NOTES 

A winemaking couple produces this serious blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  
Since everything sounds more romantic in French, this bottling is called Les Leçons des maîtres  which means Lessons of the Masters.

The He here is Jeff Pisoni, son of Gary Pisoni, a major celebrity and crazy man from Monterey's Santa Lucia Highlands.

The She here is Bibiana González Rave who hails from Colombia.  Mrs. Pisoni spent time in France and has a degree ffrom the University of Bordeaux in addition to working at Château La Mission Haut-Brion and Château Haut-Brion.

The couple make but a few barrels of this lovely, pricey blend from two vineyards in Sonoma's Russian River Valley.  The Sauvignon comes from the Ritchie Vineyard while the Semillon, which accounts for 20% of the blend in the 2014 vintage, comes from the Marino vineyard.  The juice was barrel fermented and the wine spent about 8 months on the spent yeast.

It's a nicely intense dry white.  We like the peach and melon notes.

The price is a bit crazy, but we do get requests for some deluxe California Sauvignon Blanc and this is special.

 

 

 

Currently in stock:  SHARED NOTES 2014 Russian River Valley "Les Leçons des Maîtres"  $64.99

 

 

LAWSON'S DRY HILLS

Ross and Barbara Lawson planted their first vines back in 1980, but it wasn't until 1992 that they began their winemaking adventure.  

At one point the Lawsons met Tim & Pauline Evill who were owners of a little hotel in Blenheim.  Tim Evill has a background in advertising and marketing.  With the Lawsons the Evills bought land and developed vineyards, eventually becoming shareholders in the winery.

When Barbara Lawson chose to hang up her corkscrew, the Evills assumed control of Lawsons and today they run the place with a vineyard and cellar crew.

They company owns vineyards in four areas of Marlborough and has more than a dozen separate vineyard sites.

The 2016 is a good example of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a top-flight Lawsons wine.  

The alcohol level is modest, right around 13% and the pH is low with the acidity high....

The wine displays citrus and passion fruit fragrances on the nose and the same notes show up on the palate.

Currently in stock:  2016 LAWSON'S HILLS Marlborough SAUVIGNON BLANC  SALE $16.99

 


 

 
 
 

ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY
r_mondavi.gif (1060 bytes)Mr. Mondavi is to be credited with Sauvignon Blanc being as popular as it is in the U.S. market.  He made Sauvignon in 1966 as a dry wine.  In 1967 he made a sweet wine.  He came up with the name "Fumé Blanc" and his wine was instantly popular, a finer alternative to the white wines of those days:  Grey Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Green Hungarian and California "Chablis."  

Over the years they've continued to make good "Fumé Blanc," adding a "Reserve" bottling and a regional bottling to their line-up.  Most stunning is a Fumé Blanc from an old vineyard called "To Kalon," which has been planted since 1868 and was planted by Henry Crabb.  Mondavi claims it is the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in California.  They made a special bottling called "I-Block" amounting to but a few hundred cases.  Much in the style of a top white Bordeaux, this is excellent, but expensive.  It's a far cry from the watery wine they make out in Lodi's "Woodbridge" area!

Mondavi raised the price from an ambitious $50 to $75 and we lost interest in the wine...I noticed the distributor no longer even offers this special bottling, so I suppose the Mondavi folks are drinking it all themselves.
Currently in stock:   2002 Mondavi "To Kalon - I Block" Fumé Blanc Sold Out


 
TEMENT 
2010 Austrian SAUVIGNON BLANC "Zieregg"  $54.99
I am certain that few people walking through our doors has even the slightest clue that some of the world's best Sauvignon Blanc wines are made in Austria's Steiermark region.  

An Italian friend who lives in the Alto Adige (they call it the Sudtirol) told me he organizes a blind-tasting of Sauvignons every year and Tement's wine usually wins.

Not surprised.

Tement makes great Sauvignons.  He now has half a dozen different bottlings!  The range is impressive.  And Tement makes a whole host of other wines, as well, but Sauvignon Blanc seems to be the big ambassador for the winery in the international market.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The special bottling is called Zieregg and it's a bit of a splurge for most people.  On the other hand, wines of similar quality from producers such as Dagueneau or Smith-Haut-Lafitte have now become much more expensive than Tement's fabulous wine.

Tement uses neutral wood to mature this wine and the casks are large, too.  They give it a year and a half in the cellar, but say it doesn't really blossom until somewhere between two and four years.  But don't be in a rush to drink this.  Tement says you can hold this for 15 years, as the wine, thanks to its bracing acidity, ages gracefully.

This is one of those "connoisseur wines" that most people don't know about (here in the US market, anyway).  It's remarkable and worth trying.

 
 

NEUMEISTER
The Neumeister family has about 50 acres of vineyards in Austria's Steiermark region.  Located in the town of Straden, the, this is very close to Slovenia and Hungary.

Soil types here tend toward volcanic and basalt.  The rather cool climate produces marvelous Sauvignon Blanc wines and we're fond of the Neumeister's efforts.

Their "Klassik" Sauvignon Blanc is a delight.  


We currently have the 2003 vintage in stock and it's a remarkably fresh, citrusy and dry wine.  The grape dominates as oak is not a feature of this wine.  This is a good match for all sorts of seafood, but it can be partnered with well-seasoned, spicy foods, too.

Currently in stock:  2003 Neumeister Steierische Klassik Sauvignon  Sold Out


The Neumeister family has a modern tasting room, so if you find yourself in their neighborhood, do stop by.
They own a small "inn" called Schlafgut Saziani

which is most comfortable.  It's reasonably-priced, too.
Their restaurant was closed when we visited, but it's apparently a well-regarded, somewhat fancy place which is frequently written up in the various gourmet guides.  
Here's the website:  http://www.neumeister.cc/en_index.asp

 

ANDREW RICH

Andrew Rich produces some delightfully soulful wines at the Winemaker's Studio in Oregon's Willamette Valley.

We're fans of his Pinot Noirs the past few vintages and his Sauvignon Blanc has been exceptional and, we feel, the reference point for the variety in Oregon.

It comes from Croft Vineyards, a major (certified organic) grower in Polk County.  What's fascinating about Andrew's Sauvignons is the vintage variation.  

Some vintages have been very herbaceous, while others show an almost peach-like intensity.  

The 2016, like most vintages from Andrew, is not for the faint of heart...this is a Sauvignon Lover's Sauvignon:  it's got that almost onion-like pungency, herbal character that pairs handsomely with well-seasoned seafood dishes.  It's dry and beautifully crisp...a good wine to try if you've been enjoying Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume wines.

Currently in stock:  ANDREW RICH 2016 Willamette Valley SAUVIGNON BLANC $19.99

 

 

 




 
 
 
 
 



 

 





 

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