2006 Handley Vineyard Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Handley </i>Vineyard Dry Creek Sauvignon BlancPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Wine Enthusiast “With searing acidity and minerally citrus flavors, this bone-dry Sauvignon is a great cocktail sipper with hors d’oeuvres like potstickers or crudité.” — S.H. (87 points, 11/15/2007)

What I Think:

When I saw this one on the shelves I was immediately excited as I recognized Handley from my many trips to Mendocino where they are neighbors with one of my all time favorites; Navarro. I was excited, not necessarily about this one as I ran straight to the Pinot section to see if I could find some more Handley offerings there. Alas, no. So I headed back and decided to give the Sauvignon Blanc a try. On getting home a quick search showed K&L the selling the same bottle for $15. Trader Joe’s $6. Are you enjoying that 60% discount? In cases like these I always wonder what gives. I wish someone could explain that to me. I’ll shoot an email to the winery and let you know if I hear back. Update: I did and per the winery it appears they were trying to liquidate remaining inventory quickly, enter Trader Joe’s (see editor’s note below).  Lucky us!

Apologies, you are probably much more curious as to the wine rather than the pricing. On the nose this showed nice citrus aromas with mineral and stone notes in the background. In the glass it was bright golden almost showing a honeydew hue. The palate showed more citrus flavors with nice lemon zest balance by the mineral notes and acidity lending itself to a nice finish. A very nice effort that will surely be pleasing to all. I personally prefer a bit more crispness and zing along the lines of this Geyser Peak. With this being $3 cheaper I’ll be treating myself to another bottle. In fact I already have!

Rating: Buy It

Editor’s Note (23-Oct-2008):

As mentioned I emailed the winery to see how we were lucky enough to have this one show up at Trader Joe’s and was lucky enough to get a quick response. First off I had the vintage wrong as it was the ’06. I double-checked my new bottle at home and this have edited the post above accordingly.  Here is what Linda had to say:


Hello Jason,
The vintage on the wine with the fabulous price at Trader Joe’s is 2006. We do not have the 2006 vintage Sauvignon Blanc available at the winery. The $15 pricing online is for the 2007. We have not had a price increase for 3 years.

We found that although the 2006 is tasting really great and has won some very nice Gold medals and awards, we had too much of it to sell through our regular channels in a timely fashion. (It was a big vintage). Therefore we sought unusual methods and with Trader Joes and their good reputation we felt that it was a good solution.

Buy it!
Linda

Thanks Linda, I will!

2007 King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

Per 2guysuncorked and I’ll go with Ted on this one…”This is probably the best sauvignon blanc I’ve had that is under $10. On the nose it’s bursting with citrus and fruity notes and it finishes with crisp acidity, that lingers just a bit as it reveals a slightly grassy finish. It would go great with some spicy food dishes, and it even holds up well to some spicy mango chicken I made to go with it.”

What I Think:

As many of you know I am a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand. This one is completely typical of the Kiwi offering and in this case it is a good thing. It had the nice pale color, a nose of grapefruit and grassy aromas. On the palate you are greeted with a crisp flavorless start leading to floral and mineral undertones followed by a tangy and tingly lemon finish. Gooseberry is omnipresent throughout. We had this one with a salmon salad which was a perfect pairing. Thinking this is better than the Kono (and cheaper). Better than the Geyser Peak? Not sure but who cares, this Sauvignon Blanc trio at Trader Joe’s is one of the best deals going. Pick any of the three and you can’t go wrong. Better yet, get them all and let me know which is your favorite.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Jepson Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “Bright, clean and crisp. Reflecting characteristics of hay, herbs and citrus. The grapefruit and lime flavors are subtly balanced by a little melon and kiwi. A very versatile wine, paring up nicely with seafood, chicken breast, salads and creamy pasta dishes.”

What I Think:

This one started and finished nice on the palate but was a mess in between… Was it too cold? As always more flavors started to emerge as it warmed up. Nice minerally finish but tart leaving you with a slight tang…hints of floral, lemon and citrus throughout. If you don’t taste it let it cool. Perhaps it is time for a wine fridge so I can get the temperature right…Any generous readers out there?

Worth a go if you don’t want to spend for the more expensive Geyser Peak ($8), Kono ($8) or (yet to be reviewed) King Shag ($7). That said I would recommend splurging, that is what I’ll be doing. By the way, $11.50 on the Jepson website. $2.99 at Trader Joe’s…

Rating: Skip It

2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per wine.com on the 2006 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc: “Explosive aromas brimming with lemon, lime and citrus blossom mingle with gooseberry and passionfruit to proudly proclaim this wine’s varietal. A generous, fruit-forward palate shows juicy citrus flavors of lime, grapefruit and tangerine, balanced by bright, crisp acidity. The pleasant finish persists on the palate with great length of flavor. This is an easy-sipping, eminently drinkable wine that doesn’t sacrifice complexity or varietal character in its quest to be flat-out enjoyable. The perfect apéritif, this wine also makes an ideal partner to oysters and nearly any shellfish, as well as salads and light fish and chicken dishes.”

What I Think:

Given the recent tasting I wanted to see where this one fit in the Sauvignon Blanc pecking order. The answer? Way better than the Santa Ynez and likely as good as the Groth at a fraction of the cost!

You get exactly what you expect here, and even more. From the pale, straw color to the citrus aromas. In the mouth you get it all as well; light, crisp and tart. Full of lemon and lime flavors with some mild floral overtones all interlaced on a crisp, acidic backbone. This is a keeper and there is plenty to go around for everyone. Feel free to buy more than one.

Rating: Bulk Buy

2006 Santa Ynez Valley Winery Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

As always with this winery nothing to be found here. I do know these wines are made by the same winemaker that does the Kalyra Winery offering which runs for $14.50. That would make me think this might be a discrete second label if it weren’t for the fact that this URL can be found on the back of the bottle.

What I Think:

When bottlings from this winery first hit Trader Joe’s a few years back I tried the lot which at the time was Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer. The latter was the only that made an impression. After being blown away by their Cabernet Franc (#2 in the TJ’s Top 10 of 2007) I decided to revisit a few of the others. This was the first of those to find its way into my refrigerator.

As mentioned, when a friend showed up with this Groth we had an ideal chance to do some side by side tasting. As I also mentioned, these wines could not have been more different. This one seemed atypical of what I expect from this grape. The color was a richer, golden yellow rather that the pale, straw color I am used to. The wine was much heavier on the tongue and tended towards being syrupy though there were some traditional melon flavors. Not at all what I expected, but not bad either. Will I buy it again? Doubtful, If I am buying a Sauvignon Blanc that is what I want to get.

Rating: Skip It

2006 Groth Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $13.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “This 2006 Sauvignon Blanc was produced from grapes grown in various microclimates of the Napa Valley. The warmer Napa Valley microclimates give us grapes that result in wines with a lush, full melon/citrus character in the aroma and in the flavor. The cooler Napa Valley fruit provides a solid, crisp backbone that gives the wine an exciting liveliness that balances the rich creaminess from “sur lie” aging.”

What I Think:

You know those friends you’re lucky to have? Well we had one of those over the other night and the same couple kind enough to share the impressive 2005 with us brought this ’06 to the table. Since I had already put this 06 Santa Ynez in the fridge I figured we had an excellent chance to do some true side by side tasting. Two similar bottlings from the same year and region but from different areas and at different price points. Now onto the results…

When compared to the Santa Ynez this seemed much more classic to me. It was light, dry and tart on the tongue with flavors hinting towards melon tied together on a backbone of mineral and stone. It in now way resembled its tasting partner and would have been better suited to pair with this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. That said this wine was and is a clear winner. If you’re looking to splurge don’t hesitate to grab it, you can’t go wrong.

Rating: Wow!

2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Kiwi Distributing

What They Said:

Per the winery “The 2005 KONO Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has a lifted medley of white currant, citrus and gooseberry flavours, with mineral notes. The palate is crisp and vibrant with easy drinking appeal and abundant varietal flavours that linger on the finish. It has a mid-straw colour with lemon and lime tones.”

What I Think:

Another repeat as I was a fan of this Kono Sauvignon Blanc and picked up a few more bottles a while back. I am guessing the glamour of being a Parker-like critic comes in when you give them some good ink and they thank you with a case or two of wine. The only person thanking me is the clerk at Trader Joe’s as I sign yet another credit card receipt.

As always this was a little too cold to start. After some time for thawing this wine shows it is crisp and fresh with familiar but unidentifiable aromas of fruit and flowers overlaid on what seems to be a very racy backbone. I’ve never had a gooseberry but I am almost willing to bet this is it. It starts tart on the first touch of the tongue leading to berry like flavors intermixed with floral elements on the tongue before wrapping up with a zingy, lemony, lip smacking finish.

I was slightly let down by this bottle. That said my expectations given my last experience were extremely high. Could it be that I didn’t have it with food to balance the mineral acidity? Either way, I am a little more open to trying the other New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s. I think it is time to see if this one is up to the challenge. That said if you don’t want to be disappointed, this is an extremely safe bet.

Rating: Buy It

2004 Murphy Goode “Tin Roof” Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $5.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Tin Roof is produced and bottled in the Alexander Valley by Murphy-Goode Winery and introduces a style that is more similar to New Zealand or the Loire Valley S.B. than the whites normally made at Murphy-Goode. The focus here is on the aromatics and the fresh lively fruit that is typically Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is perfect with delicate dishes, highly flavored and spicy foods or is lovely when served as aperitif.”

What I Think:

This one is a winner! Real nice, zippy, minerally start in the mouth followed by lively lemon and grapefruit citrus flavors. A great value. This one may have been a bulk buy but since they have sold out I guess I won’t have a chance to decide with my wallet. If you see this one though make sure to grab two and if it is in the SF area tell me where!

Rating: Buy It

2005 Groth Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $13.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “All of the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon was whole cluster pressed. Whole cluster pressing gives us juice of incredibly high fruitiness and softness. 30% of the blend is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks; this aging process allows the juice to retain its fruitiness, flavors and aromas. The remaining 70% of the juice was moved to small oak barrels where it was put through a long, cool fermentation. Within two weeks, the wine completed fermentation and were allowed to age “sur lie” for a total of five months in the small oak barrels. This fermentation and aging program adds rich complexity to the aromas and flavors.”

What I Think:

We had some friends bring this over for dinner the other night so I wasn’t able to take as good of notes as I liked. This was the one of two bottles they brought over and it was the first to be opened. I had long wanted to try the Groth Sauvignon Blanc but had yet to have a bottle make it to the house so I was certainly happy to see it. This wine is very fresh and dry in the mouth, quite refreshing. The nose and palate are zesting with mainly lemon and perhaps a trace of apples coming to the front. I wasn’t even able to identify the semillon until after I checked my tasting notes. The winery said this vintage is a “keeper”. If you want to spend some money on a bottle of sauvignon blanc, especially from the US, I couldn’t think of another one to get!

Rating: Wow!

2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Kiwi Distributing

What They Said:

Per the winery “The 2005 KONO Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has a lifted medley of white currant, citrus and gooseberry flavours, with mineral notes. The palate is crisp and vibrant with easy drinking appeal and abundant varietal flavours that linger on the finish. It has a mid-straw colour with lemon and lime tones.”

What I Think:

Kono is a Maori owned family brand in the retail market. It means ‘food basket’ is a traditional Maori woven basket used to carry, protect and present produce. Anyone know why they use all caps?

I drank this wine over a couple of days and the temperature played a large role in my impressions. When it was too cold the flavors were suppressed. I have heard from multiple wine maker’s, for both red and whites, that this is the most important aspect when serving/tasting wine. I intend to focus on this moving forward and you should to. Perhaps a tasting tips section to this blog would make sense.

This is a wine that I would call zingy, you get lemon overlaid on top of mineral. I think I am general when I am saying minerally that is one area where I will try to be more specific moving forward. As the lemon fades the mineral comes to the front. This is a very nice wine, though I am prone to liking sauvignon blanc so maybe you should take it with a grain of salt.

Rating: Buy It