2010 Seismic Sauvignon Blanc

2010 Seismic Sauvignon BlancPrice: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by V2 Wine Group

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Situated on the “Ring of Fire”, an enormous fault line skirting the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand has its share of seismic activity. The fault line goes directly through the center Marlborough’s Wairau Valley and our vineyards where we craft earth-shattering wines. Our Sauvignon Blanc is a true revelation of the great growing season, careful vineyard site selection, and stringent fruit development that result in exceptional, distinctly varietal wines. Showing ripe lychee notes and underlying grassiness this refreshing wine finishes with hints of flint. Enjoy chilled as an aperitif or with seafood or Asian flavors.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) Bright with nice round, juicy fruit (passionfruit, nectarines and more) but on a flinty, mineral based backbone before giving way to a tart, grassy acidity that drives this one to a crisp. (white pepper) spiced finish. I dig it. If you are a Sauv Blanc fan and looking to stock up give this one a try. I’m likely to grab a handful more as summer nears…

Rating: Buy It

2011 Ferngreen Sauvignon Blanc

As part of my quasi-investigative Trader Joe’s Thursday series I delved back into the New Zealand section, where I’ve always had much success, to see what I might find. The beloved King Shag is no more so I was curious as to see whether this one (which is by the way my very first wine from the 2011 vintage) might be an apt replacement and a potential candidate for the Holiday 2011 Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List. Word on the street on is that it might be an early favorite for a midrange spot. Want to hear more? Read on my friends…

2011 Ferngreen Sauvignon BlancPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Marlborough is one of the regions of New Zealand, located in the northeast of the South Island, known for its dry climate, the pictueresque Marlborough Sounds, and sauvignon blanc wine. Between two mountainous areas in the long straight valley of the Wairau River. This broadens to wide plains at the eastern end, in the centre of which stands Bleinheim. This region has fertile soil and temperate weather, and as such has become a centre of the New Zealand wine industry.”

What I Think:

(13%) This one is a fairly spot on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a big, bright mouthfeel showing loads of ripe gooseberry, guava and passion fruit flavors. A lemon, citrus acidity emerges on the mid-palate and drives through to a dry, lip smacking finish. Perhaps a bit too ripe for my taste but no doubt a good value for those fans of this style.

Rating: Buy It

2010 Sauvignon Republic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

I still remembering receiving the email from Angela that this one was replacing my long loved King Shag. I remember receiving a text from a friend in Seattle wondering where this one went. And I remember thinking I should update my Top 10 TJs Classics list as a result of this. That said I had sampled the Sauvignon Republic before and I was a fan (though preferred the Stellenbosch) so I figured it was high time to give this one a fighting chance. Could it match its predecessor?

2010 Sauvignon Republic Marlborough Sauvignon BlancPrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Sauvignon Republic

What They Said:

Per the bottle “A windswept terroir of hills and dry gravelly-clay riverbeds produces crisp sauvignon with gooseberry notes, herbal grassiness, and restrained minerality. Juicy flavors, crisp acidity and long finish pair well with sea foods of all kinds. The perfect wine with sush!”

What I Think:

(13%) Almost a clear straw in the glass this one shows a big grassy nose loaded with citrus and tropical fruits. Bright lime and grapefruit on entry these fruits turn plush on the palate. From there it turns crisp with an tart acidity that is short lived before the citrus fruit flavors emerge once again. For my palate I would prefer a firmer acidity and crisper finish. That said this is a nice, fruit forward (and a tad aggressive) wine. At $7 the perfect summer wine for your next party but still not quite the King Shag…

Rating: 12th Bottle (meaning I didn’t mind drinking it, perhaps even enjoyed it, but am not inclined to buy again)

What’s your take? Is the Sauvignon Republic a worthy replacement to the King Shag? If not what is your new favorite <$10 Sauvignon Blanc?

2008 St. Lukes Blind River Sauvignon Blanc

2008 St. Lukes Blind River Sauvignon BlancPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Lineage Imports

What They Said:

Per St. Lukes Estate Wines well nothing… We do get this from the bottle: “This elegant Sauvignon Blanc was made with grapes grown on the company’s Blind River vineyards in the Awatere Valley region of Marlborough. The nose shows lifted stone fruit aromas. The richly structured palate has an underlying mineral note and a long finish, expressing the terroir of the region.

What I Think:

It seems this one normally goes for around $24 and has been relatively well respected over the last few vintages. The ’06 was confused with Sancerre (Angela would love to hear your thoughts…) and the ’07 received some positive press as well. The ’08? Missing in action. About the only mention I can find is a “coming soon” from the winery itself. Why the mystery? Don’t know but rather than ponder let’s get to the wine…

(13.5%) This one is more mineral driven than would be expected of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a flinty, charcoal component immediately prevalent. That said there are still plenty of lemon/citrus notes here and as it warms some of that more traditional grassiness comes to bear. Crisp with bright acidity throughout on a firm mineral structure that leads to a finish which lingers nicely. Not your everyday Kiwi offering and a pleasant alternative (if you drink lots of NZ Sauv Blanc like me) to the status quo. This isn’t a wine for everyone but I’ll likely be grabbing another bottle sometime soon.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2008 Blocks Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Vinum Global

What They Said:

2008 Blocks Sauvignon BlancPer the bottle “Opening with cut grass and capsicum intermingling with passion fruit and finishing with guava, the nose shows the best of classic Marlborough Sauvignon. The palate is full of citrus with some hints of gooseberry and finishes with heady tropical fruits.”

What I Think:

My first thought in seeing an ’08 is that this has been aging in someone’s warehouse. I was hoping the URL on bottle would tell me where but that no longer resolves to a site. Perhaps a casualty of the ripples in the global economy? Likely so. Looks like it retailed for $16+ in its day. Was it worth it?

Golden straw in color with tropical fruit & green cut grass on the nose. Medium bodied this wine shows lemon stone fruits with hints of guava on the palate leading to a tight acidic backbone with a pleasing crispness. The finish is refreshing with a lasting pucker that leaves you smacking your lips and me thinking of a favorite childhood candy; Lemonheads. In a good way that is. Guessing we will never see the ’09 version of this one (based on my comments above) so buy this one while it lasts. I’ll be getting some more and think a blind tasting may be in order with the King Shag and Sauvignon Republic. Either way one thing is for certain; New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the most dependable wine category Trader Joe’s carries. As matter fact it is time for me to try some $10+ options to see what it is (if anything) that I am missing out on. Stay tuned! In the meantime if you are so inclined grab a bottle of this one and let me know what you think.

Rating: Buy It

2008 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Pasternak Wine

What They Said:

2008 Dashwood Sauvignon BlancPer K&L Wines “90 points in the Wine Spectator: “Vivid, refreshing and brimming with lime-accented pear, star fruit and light vanilla flavors, lingering nicely on the expressive finish. Drink now. 2,000 cases imported” (April 2009) Meyer lemon, tangerine, lime zest, papaya and pineapple. A veritable cocktail of fruit flavors, but fortunately the Dashwood never tastes like fruit cocktail. Nor is it overwhelmed with the grassy, herbal flavors that sometimes plague the value wines of New Zealand. This wine has lovely delineation of flavors ranging from the citrus to the tropical, but it never becomes cloying or overbearing. The Kim Crawford SB may currently hold the crown as our best-selling Kiwi wine, but for less money (and, I feel, better quality) the Dashwood should easily knock it from its throne.. All this and a terrific review in the Wine Spectator and you have our best bargain in Sauvignon Blanc this year. (Keith Mabry, K&L Hollywood)”

What I Think:

I was tipped off to this one by Danny a while back and shortly thereafter picked up a bottle. The bottle made it to the fridge and eventually onto the table and into the glass. As I stuck my nose in for the @garyvee sniffy, sniff it was as if I was standing under a lime tree near a pile of freshly cut grass which was dumped over a bed of rocks lying next to a cool stream. Were you able to follow all that? Now that I’ve had my fun with words let’s try this a different way. You get fresh cut grass and mineral on the nose. Once in the mouth you’re greeted with limes galore on a nice acidic backbone. Meyer lemons and gooseberry greet you on the mid palate leading to a tart, crisp finish. This one is a winner. There is a lot of great value Sauvignon Blanc’s coming out of New Zealand. If you’re still looking for your go to bottle, of if me you like a little variety, definitely give this one a try. Thanks again to Danny for the tip!

Rating: Buy It

2008 Picton Bay Pinot Noir

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by L. Watson Inc.

What They Said:

2008 Picton Bay Pinot NoirPer the bottle “This wine is made from grapes grown in Marlborough and Nelson, Picton Bay Pinot Noir is fresh with delicious red fruit flavours, enticing spicy aromas, and a smooth, fine texture. Drink now or cellar until 2012.”

What I Think:

I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while and on a recent evening it finally made its way to the table. On opening the bottle it was bursting with red berry fruits on the nose. On the palate this one starts smooth and balanced. Towards the middle an acidic backbone emerges showing light fruit flavors which lead to warm, tingly tannins on the finish. On opening it was a bit hot but it blew off with time leaving behind this tight, racy acidic wine that delivers a lot of bang for the buck. If I were to redo the Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List today this one would certainly claim a spot.

That said, this one may not be for everybody as it doesn’t deliver the big fruit many look for. It is much closer to, what I think of as, a Pinot from Oregon with a leaner style balancing red fruit and structured acidity. So how does it compare to the Redtree Pinot Noir ($7) which the Wine Spectator loved. Though I’ve yet to review it, I have tried the Redtree and it comes off more juicy and fruit forward. It also lacks the structure and balance that the Picton Bay, which I prefer, delivers. With the Castle Rock, the Caretaker and this one Trader Joe’s currently finds itself awash in nice drinking Pinot’s that cost you less than a ten spot. Which is your fave? Think I’ll grab some more of all three.

Rating: Buy It

2008 Picton Bay Sauvignon Blanc

2008 Picton Bay Sauvignon BlancPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by L. Watson Inc.

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Picton, at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island is the gateway to Marlborough. Our wine is produced from world famous Marlborough vineyards. Picton Bay Sauvignon Blanc is classic Marlborough in style – vibrant, fresh and fruity.”

What I Think:

Nose of lemon, custard…almost jolly rancherish. Some candied grapefruit lingering in the background. In the mouth, tart and bracing. Some sour lemons on the palate. Tons of mineral and a lot of acidity. It doesn’t have the balance I am looking for at times coming off as overly grassy. This one isn’t bad but I know of two more New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s at Trader Joe’s that I prefer; the King Shag ($7) and the Kono ($8). Should the Kiwi style not work for you the Geyser Peak ($8) is also a winner.

Rating: Skip It (with the caveat that if you are not a fan of those Sauv Blanc’s above this one is well worth trying)

Editor’s Note (09-Jul-2009): Added a disclaimer to the rating

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 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