2008 Steelhead Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2008 Steelhead Sauvignon BlancPer Steelhead Wine “This very special wine composed of 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes features delicious flavors of citrus and grapefruit zest with pleasant mineral character very reflective of its renowned Dry Creek Valley terroir.” — Steven Canter

What I Think:

Steelhead was in a recent Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer and try as I might I wasn’t able to come across the Zinfandel. Given that when this Sauvignon Blanc showed up I decided to grab three bottles on sight. You see these are the products of Quivira Vineyards which I’ve heard many great things about. Steelhead Wines has its own site where you can buy this one today for $16 a bottle. Well kind of… You see you have to order 3 bottles which costs you $48 or the equivalent of 8 bottles at the $6 price tag Trader Joe’s is offering. Again (calm down Jason) another winery disrespecting their most important customer. Let’s get to my notes before the diatribe begins…

(13.5%) 100% Sauvignon Blanc – Typical in color. Clean, nice, zesty grapefruit on the nose. Plush and balanced with cantaloupe on top of a firm mineral backbone which keeps the palate crisp and refreshing. This one is fuller in the mouth than expected with nice citrus fruit on the edges with a pleasant short finish. This one is lacking the overpowering acidity which makes it food friendly and a good choice for the Thanksgiving dinner table for those thinking ahead. I bought three bottles and am likely to grab some more…

Rating: Buy It

What did others think about the Steelhead Sauvignon Blanc? Again I’ll send you over to Jeff’s at Viva La Wino for a different take.

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!

Thanks Linda, I will!

2005 Martin Estate Chardonnay, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

Price: $14.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “From the home ranch in Dry Creek Valley, this rich and creamy chardonnay is a big favorite with our customers. Made in a rich ebullient style with hints of butter and caramel, this lovely chardonnay has a great mouthfeel and long lingering finish.”

What I Think:

When tasting in Dry Creek some week back I decided to drop into Martin Family Vineyards, good decision. I still have the flyer here and am likely to join their wine club in the near future. While there I picked up this Chardonnay. Sadly, it appears this was the last time the Chardonnay will be available. Most of the fruit was usually sold, I believe to Clos du Bois, and apparently the business plan had changed and these vines were uprooted. Perhaps I will order more before the last of it disappears…

From the get go an impressive wine. Crisp, rich, opulent mouth feel with white spicy fruits edging on citrus followed by traditional vanilla and butter flavors on finish. I recently learned that the butter is not the barrel as I have long thought. Instead it is malolactic fermentation. Not sure if that is true but worth following up on. That said these flavors aren’t overbearing and the fruit shines through. From someone that would never be confused with a Chard fan I was quite impressed. Should have saved some more to enjoy!

Rating: Wow!