Posted on Jan, 16. 2012 by Evan Williams
On the heels of a couple of relatively pricy collectors’ offers on ageable reds, I’ve got your first stunning bargain of 2012. Hey, don’t scoff at Sauv Blanc in January – this is wine that works with any season, and is priced so that you can stock up now for the next few months without busting your budget.
As some of you may know, I have a serious soft spot for Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre…it is, by most measures, the best in the world, and it’s become an annual tradition of ours to go through a case or so of the Cherrier when it shows up in late spring. Now, there are scores of Sauv Blancs from outside of France that strive to craft a similar reputation, but the problem with this varietal in the modern wine world, as with Chardonnay, Cab, etc., is that with so many producers on the bandwagon around the globe, there’s a frustrating abundance of cheap grapefruit-bombs out there to wade through (or, alternately, you just have to pay through the nose for quality) – so much so that I’ve taken to just hunkering down with a couple trusty Sancerre producers just to be safe.
That having been said, you can be pretty sure that when you see me of all people get excited about an affordable bottle from Mendocino County, it must be something special…and here we are! The 2009 Patianna Sauvignon Blanc is some of the best sub-$30 SB I’ve tasted, Sancerre included – and to be honest, I think it’s actually more accessible than a lot of those French examples right now; rather than being a tight ball of minerality and acid that needs time and patience to open up, this is wide open, full throttle, right now. That’s certainly not to say that it’s a flabby, oaky, or overly-obvious attempt to placate the ‘California palate’, either; this is actually very Sancerre-esque, just with much more unctuousness.
The Patianna estate is fully certified organic & Demeter-biodynamic, and the wine here reflects their dedication to terroir expressiveness: there’s a stony, chalky front end that’s buffeted by soft citrus and lychee, with only a touch of that typical passionfruit/ivy character that can so often overpower ‘new world’ Sauv Blanc. There is bright, powerful acidity and energy throughout, and the wine is dangerously gulpable, but what really struck me after a few sips is the sheer depth of the wine: it’s anything but one-noted, with layers of terroir and varietal character, all held together with a confident structure that is rarely if ever found at this price range. This is what you call rarefied, and at under $17, almost unheard of.
It’s also getting plenty of attention from the press, and is thus disappearing fast. It showed up on the cover of Wine Enthusiast recently, and made #5 in their top 100 wines of 2011:
Winemaker Mike Lee continues to prove his prowess with Sauvignon Blanc in this latest vintage from Patianna, Patti Fetzer’s line of organically farmed wines from outside of Hopland in Mendocino County. Fermented entirely in stainless steel without undergoing ML or barrel aging, it delivers everything you love about the variety, inviting one in with melon and minerality, then following through with a surprising creaminess and almost decadent, mousse-like finish. 93 pts.
2009 Patianna Sauvignon Blanc
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Retail Price: $21.99