1996 Serge Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume "Les Pentes" $18.98; 12.5 % alc.: (Last year's notes ) This medium straw was given a bit of a chill, and as soon as it was poured, it exhibited BIG cat spray on the nose, which of course, I found endearing. Flavors and aromas also showed rich pear/green apple/grapefruit/mineral notes. It's medium full bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel, yet enough acidity to keep it lively.
Based on our previous experiences with Sauvignon, it has occurred to this taster that the "cat spray" element found in many of these may dissipate with some bottle age, which seems to reveal a more balanced, harmonious wine. Still, these are nice young too. Terrific stuff! (Interestingly, Kim didn't care for it. She described it as "sour."
This has done well with a year in the cellar; its not quite as crisp and its a little more complex. And yes, its lost most if not all of the "cat spray." I noted creamy green apple/pear/herb/mineral/wet stone, and theres still more than enough acidity to keep this going for some years yet. It held its own quite nicely after a big brassy 98 Cloudy Bay one lovely Saturday afternoon with the Doughnuts on the Lake.
1996 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre $14.99; 12.5 % alc.: (Last years notes ) Heres a Sauvignon that pushes all the right buttons for this taster! A pale gold with a nose of lemon/lime/touch ograssy cat spray/mineral/hint o herb and flavors to match. Good intensity of fruit, good acidity and a somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Clean, crisp and delicious, this is a great summer wine, but why restrict it to one season? And the price doesnt bother me a bit; Id take it over most, if not all, of its cheaper California cousins.
With a year in the cellar, this has mellowed nicely as well. Again, the grassy cat spray has dissipated, the acidity has toned down some and the mineral has evolved into a mossy wet stone that this taster finds very appealing. I might just keep the last one in the cellar for another year to see how it fares.
1996 Pascal Jolivet Pouilly-Fume $18.99; 12.5 % alc.: Medium straw, with a funky vegetal note on the nose that mostly blows off to reveal grapefruit/pear aromas. The Director immediately noticed cat-pee/pine needles/garlic "b.o.". Very crisp, yet smooth and fairly rich on the palate, the flavors echo the nose with a somewhat bitter finish. Much more tart than Jolivets Sancerre, which I prefer to this; still its not a bad Sauvignon by any means.
1998 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch (South Africa) $18.99; 13.5 % alc.: The 97 Mulderbosch Sauvignon wowed us last year, so we were expecting much the same from this pale straw. And we werent disappointed at first, as the nose explodes with big grassy/cat pee/grapefruit/sweaty armpit/ herb and smoke aromas. However, while the flavors generally echo, they do so with less exuberance and acidity than we expected. As it opens, the armpit blows off, accentuating grapefruit and green apple. Subtle notes of cream and honey also emerge on the palate, but this lacks the depth, concentration and the crisp "snap" of great Sauvignon. It has a shorter finish than one would like, and while its not a bad wine by any means, its certainly not worth the money, which would be better spent on Cloudy Bay or "Les Pentes."
1997 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (New Zealand) Revisited $19.99; 13.5 % alc.: Weve tasted last years model twice in the last few months, and our impressions were consistent. This is a darned fine Sauvignon thats undergoing an interesting evolution. Mossy wet stone dominates the grapefruit on the nose of this medium straw, with a hint of canned peas (Kim disagreed) and the slightest whiff of petrol. These fan out more evenly in the big, bright flavor profile, with only a little less acidic zip than a year ago while maintaining the same long finish. A great Sauvignon that I like best within two years of release.
1998 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough/Hawkes Bay Private Bin $12.99; 13 % alc.: This pale gold has a slightly greenish tinge to it, and is a pretty thing to look at indeed. The bouquet is also pretty, if rather subtle, showing slightly floral citrus/pear nuances. The flavors expand nicely to show rich ripe pear bordering on pineapple, with a whiff of grass early on and hints of spice, all on a medium bodied frame. Rich and unctuous, yet crisp and acidic, at first I wondered if this might not be missing a little something from the mid-palate on back, but finally decided that, rather, it is an elegant, focused, refined and dare I say feminine Sauvignon for its price category. Very nice.
1998 Babich Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough $8.99; 13.5 % alc.: Ive been hearing about this for a while now, but it only just showed up in Day-twah lately. Its a pale straw with a bright grapefruit/lime/hint of fig and a note of grass that falls just short of feline bouquet; the intense flavors echo crisply with a note of detergent/mineral and a slightly piney edge. It finishes long and gives a great bang for the bucks. People liked it and it sold out fast.
Of course, summer isnt the only time to enjoy Sauvignon. Its a great aperitif anytime of the year, and always a fine accompaniment to fish, fowl and a whole range of other foods. We always reserve a few cases worth of space in the cellar for this most versatile of white varietals.
1997 Selene Carneros Sauvignon Blanc Hyde Vineyard $20: Im always on the lookout for fine Sauvignon, no matter where its from, and since this got high marks from the Expectorator, I thought what the hey. Its a medium straw with a textbook grassy cat spray/grapefruit nose that follows through on the palate, though with less expubidence. Its a little soft and fat (not how I like my Sauvignon), and the flavors seem somewhat muted and creamy. It certainly is pleasant enough, but theres a little too much oak and a little too much malo here for me.
1998 St. Supery Napa Sauvignon Blanc $16.99: Heres another one that got good numbers from the Spectator, and strangely enough, my notes are similar to those of the Selene. Its a medium straw with a pale green tinge and a classic cat spray/grapefruit nose with a bright squirt of lemon to boot; Kim was reminded of pine air freshener. Its not as bright on the palate, with cream/pear/fig flavors that are fairly rich, but suffer from a fat texture and lack of acidity for my tastes. 90 points? No way. Id give it an 85-87 at most, if I played the ratings game.