Private Tasting: Sauvignon Blanc

By Kori ~ October 1st, 2008.

Even though summer has officially ended and the cooler weather has us thirsting for big red wines to help warm us up, the Wine Peeps still enjoy white wines year-round as well. We recently had another one of our double-blind private tastings. This time when we sat down for our dinner of lobster tails with wild rice and asparagus, all we knew were that the two wines in front of us were white, but we did not know their region of origin or varietal. For a more complete description of how we set up these private tastings, please refer back to my Private Tasting: Rioja post.

While we found both wines enjoyable with our meal, all four of us preferred one over the other. When we finished eating and pulled off the sacks to reveal what we had been drinking, we found two Sauvignon Blancs, one from New Zealand and one from California. The 2006 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, beat the 2006 Ceago Vinegarden Kathleen’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from Clear Lake, California.

Cloudy Bay has been one of our favorites since we visited the winery in 2005. It is one of the most prominent and well-known wineries in New Zealand, especially known for their Sauvignon Blanc. While this wine definitely has characteristics of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, it is not quite as over-the-top acidic and grapefruity as some can be. And while we love the acidity and grapefruit flavors, I know that some of you may not. If that is the case, Cloudy Bay is one that I recommend you try.

Before this tasting, we had not previously had the Ceago Vinegarden. I learned about it from reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines book in which it was his #65. In general, we have not enjoyed many California Sauvignon Blancs because they have a tendency to be overoaked. While this wine has spent some time in oak, it was fermented in stainless steel and therefore retains more of its fruit flavors. The Ceago does have a bit of an unusual fizziness for a still wine, though.

All in all, this was a good tasting. Both are nice whites that are worth a try.

2006 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand): Clear, light straw color. Aromas of grapefruit and lime with even more grapefruit and citrus flavors coming through on the palate. Extremely smooth with crisp acidity.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: K&L Wine Merchants (California), $23.99 [2007 is their currently available vintage]; Available elsewhere, $20 to $46

2006 Ceago Vinegarden Kathleen’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Clear Lake, California): Clear, light yellow, a bit darker than the Cloudy Bay. Pear and mango dominate the nose. Flavors of pear are prominent. Has some acidity and is actually a bit fizzy.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: K&L Wine Merchants (California), $15.99; Available elsewhere, $18 to $20

Filed under: American Wine, California Wine, New Zealand Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, White Wine, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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