Tag Archive | Sauvignon Blanc

Hess 2014 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc

I was looking for some whites the other day at the grocery store, perhaps to pretend that the winter has given way to spring.  That hasn’t happened of course, but a girl can dream…  I saw this on an endcap, and it ended up in my cart, without so much as a read of the back of the bottle.  I know.  I live dangerously.

2014 Hess North Coast Sauvignon Blanc (this pic is from a 2012, but you get the idea...)

2014 Hess North Coast Sauvignon Blanc (this pic is from a 2012, but you get the idea…)

This wine has a lot of lemongrass on the nose.  On the palate, there is more crisp lemongrass, with citrus and tropical fruit, but it also had something I wasn’t expecting.  There was a lingering flavor of barely burnt caramel – a good burnt caramel.  It was intriguing – different.  It certainly tasted like a New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc, with the exception of that hint of toasty caramel.

The Hess website’s description didn’t mention burnt caramel, nor have I tasted that in other Sauv Blancs.  It was aged in stainless steel, so where the flavor came from will remain a mystery.  Flaw?  Happy Accident?  Intention?  Who knows.  At any rate, it was a great, affordable wine at just $9.  And I would drink it again, not only just to discover whether the burnt caramel is a fluke.

Happy Wednesday!



2013 Corvidae Wise Guy Sauvignon Blanc

I’m chilling at home with Oliver, after working all day and going for a nice walk with friends after work.  I opened a bottle of the 2013 Corvidae Wise Guy Sauvignon Blanc.  Corvidae is a second label of Owen Roe, a winery with production facilities in Washington and Oregon.  We had it for the first time when we visited Owen Roe’s Yakima tasting room in January (they were one of the few that were open!).

2013 Corvidae Sauvignon Blanc - Isn't this an awesome label?

2013 Corvidae Sauvignon Blanc – Isn’t this an awesome label?

The wine is a pale straw color, with a crisp nose of lemongrass.  On the palate this wine is crisp and clean, with a slight tartness and flavors of lemongrass, lychee and pineapple.  It is a great wine, and retails for only $10.  At that price, I should have purchased a whole case!  It looks like the Sauvignon Blanc is sold out at the winery, so be sure to snatch this wine up if you find it out and about.

Oh, and they totally get bonus points for the label!  Check out the crow’s legs!

Happy Tuesday Everybody!

Kim Crawford 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Who says you can’t drink a crisp white wine in the winter?

Jon cracked this baby open the day after Christmas, and I had a glass the next day.  It was certainly none the worse for the wear after being open for a day.  I can’t tell you much about the nose, because I think I might be getting a cold – just that I smelled fresh lemongrass.

The wine is crisp and bright, with flavors of lemongrass, pineapple and lychee.  There is some minerality, but not to the same degree as some other Sauvignon Blancs I have had.

2013 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

Certainly a great wine at a reasonable price point – it would pair well with Thai or other Asian dishes, or buttery seafood.


2013 Linen Sauvignon Blanc

The first white wine that I tried from the mixed case was the 2013 Linen Sauvignon Blanc, by Bergevin Vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington.  The wine is a nice, light straw color, with light tropical notes and a lemongrass scent.  On the palate, it is a crisp, clean, wine with flavors of melon, lychee, and crisp citrus.  The flavors are nicely balanced, and the result is a wine that has a lot going on, in a good way.

The first night, I paired this with simple baked fish and vegetables, and it was still fabulous the next day when my girlfriend and I finished off the bottle with an appetizer assortment of fresh vegetables, cheeses and crackers, sushi and hummus.  The flavors in this wine offered something for each food we tried.  And although my friend is a self-professed red wine drinker, she really enjoyed this wine.

2013 Linen Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Linen Sauvignon Blanc

At the $10.99 price point, this was an amazing value.  I will certainly buy this again!  And it is on my list of tasting rooms to visit next time we are in Walla Walla.

Have you had this wine?  What did you think?

2013 Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc

Temperatures have been back up in the 80s this week – leading to some hot walks  and some high heat while working on the deck after work.  Which means it quickly becomes time to cool off with a nice chilled Sauvignon Blanc.

Jon opened up a bottle that we bought at Costco without knowing anything about it.  Jules Taylor 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, from Marlborough, New Zealand.  Here’s what the Jules Taylor website has to say about it:  “A delightful light lime in colour, this wine is showing aromas of fruit salad, passion fruit and fleshed nectarines with underlying notes of jalapeno peppers and vine ripened tomato stalks. With its well defined backbone of acid this mouthful of goodness rolls out to a long dry finish.”


Perhaps it was the trip across the pond that changed the flavor, but I didn’t get any of that.  Here’s how I would describe it.  The color is more a golden, sunshine yellow.  On the nose, this wine has a heavy, grassy aroma.  On the palate, it is full of crisp acid, and lemongrass flavors.  Delicious – but nowhere near jalapeno or nectarines aromas for me!

It was harvested in April 2013, and aged 4 months before bottling.  It is 100% Sauvignon Blanc with 13.5% alcohol.

If they still have it when I’m next at Costco, I will certainly pick up another bottle!

Have you tried this wine?  Whose description did you agree with more?



2011 Va Piano Bruno’s Blend Sauvignon Blanc

After some busy days at work, and some unseasonably hot weather in the Pacific Northwest, I was ready for a cool, crisp white.  It was over 80 degrees for several days in a row and really humid, and we were heading out for half marathon training after work in the heat of the day.  Add to that the mosquitoes, and you definitely need to relax with a nice Sauvignon Blanc after your shower.

That leads me to Bruno’s Blend, a Sauvignon Blanc produced by Va Piano Vineyards in Walla Walla.  We got it on our February 2013 trip over there, and it seemed time to crack it open.  It is mostly Sauvignon Blanc, but it is blended with a little bit of Riesling – I’m not sure of the exact percentages.

Mine was a 2011, but you get the idea...

Mine was a 2011, but you get the idea…

I poured some into my glass and at first whiff, I was a little freaked out because it smelled really alcohol-ey and I was worried that it might be past its prime.  Uh oh!  My very first sip also contained that high-octane alcohol flavor, and I was sad.  But the taste immediately mellowed into a wonderful crisp lemongrass flavor and tart green apple with just a hint of melon.  Delicious!

Va Piano really knows their stuff; they make some excellent wines.  You can check out my post about our visit here.  And this wine is no different – a great wine that really stands out.  And there’s one more great thing about this wine – a portion of the proceeds from sales of Bruno’s Blend go to a non-profit organization.  If you have the chance to try it or other Va Piano wines, I hope you will let me know what you think!

Happy Friday!

California Marathon Road Trip: Sonoma and Tin Barn Vineyards

The day after Jon’s marathon, Jon and I decided to head to Sonoma for the day to do a bit of wine tasting.  The day was cold and clear, and we got to Sonoma right at lunchtime.  After wandering around the square checking out our lunch options, we decided to try the Plaza Bistro.

The place was pretty empty when we arrived, and the temperature was cold – I wish they would have turned the heat up a bit.  But the service was friendly and fast, and the food was excellent.  Jon had the beet salad, with roasted beets, fresh sliced fennel, Blue Lake beans, Chevre goat cheese, and almonds, all on baby greens topped with a sherry vinaigrette dressing.  Jon was very satisfied with the salad – but he wished it had been larger.

Lunch at the Plaza Bistro

Lunch at the Plaza Bistro

I had the salmon sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, arugula, and lemon garlic aioli on a ciabatta roll.  It came with a green salad with vinaigrette.  The sandwich was amazing!  My only gripe was that the salad needed something more; it was just lettuce and dressing.  The sandwich was more than enough for me, and I knew Jon would be hungry again soon if he didn’t eat more, so I was very kind to share a few bites of my sandwich with him.

My salmon sandwich at The Plaza Bistro

My salmon sandwich at The Plaza Bistro

After our tummies were full, we were ready to start our tour.  We headed first to Tin Barn Vineyards.  We were first introduced to Tin Barn wine when we went to Zuzu restaurant in Napa a few years ago.  Zuzu is a tapas restaurant (fabulous by the way) and we had a bottle of their Zinfandel with our meal that evening.  We were hooked.  It was well balanced, fruit forward, and not overpowered with tannins.  We even tried to visit the tasting room on that trip and struck out, because it was Tuesday and they were closed.

This trip we were lucky enough to be there on a Monday, one of the days that the tasting room was open!  They are located in a row of warehouses, and it looked pretty deserted.  But the sign said they were open, so we went inside.  We looked around the tasting room waiting for somebody to come out, and peeked into the winery area as well.  Eventually, the owner, Michael Lancaster, realized that we were out there and came out to pour – he had been working in the winery and didn’t hear us come in.

Tin Barn Vineyards Tasting Room

Tin Barn Vineyards Tasting Room

Mike was super friendly and guided us through the Tin Barn line-up, starting with the Sauvignon Blanc, a dry, crisp balanced wine with flavors of lemon-grass.  There were two Pinot Noirs, both from Ricci Vineyard in Sonoma County, the 2010 and 2011 vintages.  They were both excellent; and having two different vintages from the same vineyard meant you could taste the difference that weather imparts on wine.

There were also two Zinfandels on the list – both from 2011.  The first was from Gilsson Vineyard in the Russian River Valley – a nice, fruit-forward Zin.  Gilsson Vineyard has 50 year old vines, which make for a fantastic wine.  The other was more tannic, from Los Chamizal Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, but also delicious.

We finished the tasting with the 2011 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  This isn’t a vineyard designate wine, and it also contains Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.  It was a great California Cab, with great structure and not over-oaked.

We left with two bottles of the Sauvignon Blanc and a bottle of each of the Zinfandels.  Our visit left me wishing we lived closer!

California Road Trip: Crush 29 – A Wine Country Experience

The last full day of our California Road Trip was going to be in Sacramento.  We headed over after doing the 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach, and had an uneventful drive with just a little bit of rush hour traffic just as we were heading into Sacramento.  After we got checked into our hotel, Jon and I had a chat about our dinner agenda.  Jon was craving some Thai food from a restaurant that he used to go to with his grandmother.  However, I had seen an ad in the hotel information book and I was intrigued.

Now, if you follow this blog, you know that food porn isn’t my primary focus.  I like a great meal on occasion but I can’t afford to have the kind of meal that you want to blog about every night – neither my wallet nor my waistline would hold up for very long.  But on this particular night, I gave Jon the puppy dog eyes until he agreed to take me to Crush 29.  Jon was skeptical – he thought that a restaurant that advertised itself as a wine country dining experience would be pretentious and snooty.

We got there and were seated right away and had a chance to look over their wine menu.  I selected the Chalk Hill 2006 Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma.  Jon picked the Ferrari Carano 2009 Fume Blanc.  They were both excellent choices, but we each liked the other wine better.  So we traded!

Then we moved on to the food.  We started out ordering an appetizer – the Lamb Lollipops.  I don’t normally eat lamb, but I couldn’t resist this description: skewers of marinated lamb tenderloins around a sweet potato puree with a hot mustard-pomegranate drizzle.  But, for better or worse – they were sold out, so no Lamb Lollipops for us.  So instead, we ordered the Whole Sesame Artichoke, steamed in a spiced broth and flash grilled with a chipotle-basil aioli.  It was absolutely delicious!

Whole Sesame Artichoke

Whole Sesame Artichoke

For the main course, I chose the Achiote Glazed Mahi-Mahi, with a blood orange gastrique, sweet corn sauce, forbidden rice, sautéed spinach and a picante pepper-pineapple chutney.  I hadn’t even heard of Achiote, so I had to look it up.  Apparently it is a paste, used in Yucatán, Oaxacan, and Belizean cuisine, made from the slightly bitter, earthy flavored, red annatto seeds, mixed with other spices and ground into a paste.  The paste is dissolved in either lemon juice, water, oil or vinegar to create a marinade, and marinated or rubbed directly upon meat. It is also sometimes it is added to corn dough to create a zesty flavor and color in empanadas and red tamales.
Achiote Glazed Mahi-Mahi

Achiote Glazed Mahi-Mahi

Jon ordered the Hawaiian Spiced Ahi, on a macadamia nut rice with a ginger infused coconut plum wine sauce.  I knew all of the ingredients in his, so no having to google his meal!  Our server accidentally switched our meals, so we each tried the other first.  I thought Jon’s meal was fantastic!  Then when we traded, my meal was even better!  I think Jon was jealous…
Hawaiian Spiced Ahi

Hawaiian Spiced Ahi

We were so impressed with all of the food – everything that we had was so full of flavor and so well done!  I thought it couldn’t get any better, until I saw the dessert delivered to the table next to us.  The Chocolate Bomb.  Oh. My. God.  It looked so good that I immediately found more room for dessert in my belly.  The Chocolate Bomb was presented on a hazelnut crust with creme anglaise and fresh berry sticks.  Here’s the photo:
The Chocolate Bomb - Pure Heaven!

The Chocolate Bomb – Pure Heaven!

I don’t think any more words are required.  If you are near there – GO.

Va Piano… Go Softly…

After leaving Northstar Winery, we followed the recommendation of our server and headed back down the road we came in on for a stop at Va Piano Vineyards.  The name, for those of you who think it sounds unusual for a winery, comes from the Italian saying, “Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano.” He who goes slowly, goes safely and goes far.  As the story goes, the winemaker spent his senior year in college in Italy, where he fell in love with the Italian wine industry and decided to make a career out of it.  The vineyards were planted in 1999, the first vintage (2003) was released in 2005.

The tasting room is set on a hill with a beautiful view, and is styled after a Tuscan Villa.  It is a beautiful facility.  But Jon and I were  a little worried before we went in, because there was a white, stretch limo parked outside…  Oh dear, Bachelorette Party?  But it turned out to be just one couple in the limo, with a woman about my age being treated to a nice birthday wine tour weekend!  The atmosphere in the tasting room was light and fun, and the two other couples there were friendly and eager to interact.

Va Piano Vineyards Tasting Room

Va Piano Vineyards Tasting Room

Our tasting began with a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, which was blended with a touch of Riesling.  This wine is excellent; very crisp with a green apple finish.  I think it is very similar to New Zealand Sauv. Blancs that I like so well.

Then we moved into the reds, with a Cabernet Sauvignon called Bruno’s Blend.  It had medium tannins, light oak, and flavors of raspberry.  Very good!

The next wine was a library release – a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, that had much heavier tannins and oak that the earlier blend – it didn’t have much fruit left.  This wine was too much for me.

But their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon had much more fruit and acidity with flavors of black raspberry.  I thought it was very nice.

The tasting ended with their 2009 Syrah – all I wrote was “very good!”  I do remember that it is very similar to the 2006 Dobbes Family Estate Syrah that we bought down in Oregon on a tasting trip there.  That was one of the best Syrahs I have ever tried, so that says a lot about the Va Piano Syrah.

We left with the Sauvignon Blanc and the Syrah – not bad for a place we had never heard of!

Smell This Wine – is that Cat Pee?

I hosted a blind wine tasting party for some friends and family this weekend.  So, to get ready for the fun, I wrote up some tasting notes for guests and it got me wondering about the adjectives that are used when describing wines.  Some of the flavors and aromas, I totally get.  To say something has a lot of minerality, or tastes like green apple, I can definitely see what you are talking about.  But other descriptions are a bit more – let’s just say – out there.

I’ve seen wine reviewers describe a red wine as tasting like leather.  Huh?  Now I grew up with horses, so I have actually had leather in my mouth from time to time while holding my horse’s reins between my teeth so I can free up my hands for something for a minute (not that I would recommend that as a super-smart thing to do, but don’t tell my mom).  But I have never set out to taste leather, and I wonder why a wine reviewer would have tasted leather.  Biting a leather strap while having his foot amputated without anesthesia?  Or maybe he rode horses too, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but why would he assume all his readers have tasted leather?

Once, a wine reviewer described a wine as having a hint of petrol flavor.  It was in a newspaper review, but I don’t remember the winery or the wine that the reviewer was discussing.  Now this is just wrong on several levels.  First off, we’re in the United States – we call it gas.  And then, who in their right mind would taste gas?  Do you just wake up one morning craving a shot out of the pump at the corner station?  I suppose maybe you have tasted gas if you are siphoning a car, but I tend to think that is generally a criminal activity, and call me biased, but I don’t think your run-of-the-mill gas thief goes for a fine bottle of Sauvignon Blanc on the weekend.  Imagine being the winemaker whose wine was just described as tasting of petrol!  That’s gotta hurt!

Which brings me back to the wine tasting notes from this weekend.  Gerwurztraminer, a German varietal that I generally associate with being a sweet wine, was described as having a taste that ranged from apricot (yes, I totally get this), to perfume and bath salts.  Bath salts?  Is somebody not getting enough sodium in their diet that they have to gnaw on a bath salt?  Let me just say, I am pleased to not have come upon a Gerwurztraminer that I would say tasted like bath salts.  Not yet anyway, I’ll keep you posted.

One of the richer adjectives that I left out of my notes for my guests was that Sauvignon Blanc can smell like cat pee.  I had never noticed a Sauv. Blanc smelling like cat pee before, and some of my guests were not “experienced” tasters, so I didn’t want to freak anybody out.  So we are standing around the table tasting “Letter E”, and my mother in law says, “Smell this.  It smells like cat pee.”  And it did!  Amazingly like cat pee.  Of course, sadly, by this time it had been several days since I had drawn up the tasting notes, so I couldn’t remember which wine was supposed to have this aroma.  Next time, I’ll include the reference for sure!

I’ll be sure to blog about the blind wine tasting party soon – there were other memorable moments besides the cat pee comment.  But a good time was had by all!