- This winery is named after Monte Massico, an area in Italy's Campania
region. It's a region that may have 2000 years of winemaking history
and it was the stuff of legends. Wine from that region would
be made from Falanghina if it was white and Aglianico, Piedirosso or
possibly Primitivo if it was red.
Winemaker Dan Petroski, who's day job is at Napa Valley's Larkmead winery,
makes a few wines under his Massican label. It turns out his grandparents
came from the Monte Massico region.
You've likely heard of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. But Petroski
also dabbles with an interesting and tasty blend of Ribolla Gialla, Tocai
Friulano & Chardonnay. There's a second blend comprising Pinot
Grigio and Greco.
Petroski is a fan of top Friulian wineries, having great respect for
Jermann, Venica, Borgo del Tiglio, Kante and others.
We've periodically enjoyed his wine when dining out in The City and now we
have some Massican wines in the shop.
The grapes come from the Pope Valley in Napa.
That region has long been a sleepy place and it's far less prestigious
than, say, Rutherford, St. Helena, Oakville or Calistoga. And yet
Petroski manages to make a wine with plenty of character and
We're not nominating for sainthood, though the San Francisco did tab him
as "Winemaker of the Year" in 2017.
Now Friuli does produce some remarkably good Sauvignon Blanc wines.
The grape is simple known as "Sauvignon" in Italy as
"Sauvignon Blanc" would be, for Italian sensibilities,
And so the Massican wine carries just the name Sauvignon on its label.
It's a world apart from New Zealand Sauvignons and we can't really peg it
as being from France's Loire Valley.
Petroski likes to pick the grapes at lower levels of sugar than most
California winemakers. And this means, of course, a bit higher
levels of acidity. That's what makes the wine so special and so
It's a great partner for seafood. We've prepared a few different
white fish dishes...very fine. You don't need much salt or lemon
juice when this is paired with seafood.
Currently in stock: MASSICAN 2017 Napa
- 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
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
- 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
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)
- THE OJAI VINEYARD
2016 Santa Barbara County Sauvignon Blanc
- 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 2016 vintage is the current, recent release and, as usual, it's an
expressive dry white with good varietal character. It's quite dry and has more of an herbal streak
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
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
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
- 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
- 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.
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
Trione family has been part of the Sonoma County wine scene for many
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 sang "Sauvignon" beautifully. Four
months in oak adds a further note of complexity.
The 2014 wine was 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!
Perhaps they have customers who love the style of the 2017...slightly sweet and
candied...but it's not the sort of wine we like to recommend.
Currently in stock: TRIONE 2015 Russian River
Valley SAUVIGNON BLANC Sold Out
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
We have found the Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc to be quite striking and of
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 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
winemaking couple produces this serious blend of Sauvignon Blanc and
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
Since everything sounds more romantic in French, one bottling is called
Leçons des maîtres which means Lessons of the Masters.
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.
We might consider this to be their tip-of-the-cap to Bordeaux.
The price is a bit crazy, but we do get requests for some deluxe
California Sauvignon Blanc and this is special.
second, tiny production bottling is called Les
Pierres qui décident.
(The rocks that decide.)
2017 "Les Pierres" is outstanding and it reminded us of Pouilly-Fumé
wines made by the late Didier Dagueneau back in the early 2000s.
It comes from two vineyard sites, one in the Russian River Valley and the other
a bit north and east of Santa Rosa.
The wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and it's entirely of the Musqué clone.
Both vineyards were harvested during the last week of August in an effort to
capture bright fruit and crisp acidity.
They tell us the wine was aged in French oak, but the wood is well integrated
into the wine and we are not especially sensitive to the oak here. The
secret is they use puncheons rather than smaller barriques for this
bottling. That means less surface area of the wine to oak.
It's a remarkable bottle and one of California's most striking
We suspect vignerons in the Loire Valley would be proud to have their label on
Currently in stock: SHARED NOTES 2014 Russian
River Valley "Les Leçons des Maîtres" $64.99
SHARED NOTES 2017 Sonoma "Les Pierres qui Décident" $64.99
LAWSON'S DRY HILLS
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
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
The alcohol level is modest, right around 13% and the pH is low with the
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
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
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"
2010 Austrian SAUVIGNON BLANC "Zieregg" $54.99
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.
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
- 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
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
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
Some vintages have been very herbaceous, while others show an almost
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