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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sonoma's Best Wine?

  There are many grape varieties grown in Sonoma County--Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Zinfandel are the top five. So what do we do best? By "we" I mean the folks that actually do all the work growing and making the wine. I just drink it--as should you!

  For anyone who has been around Sonoma County wine for awhile and knows what we do it's hard not to make a case for Zinfandel. Yes, Pinot Noir is coming on, Chardonnay has long been #1 and Cabernet Sauvignon #2. But it's not necessarily about what's currently popular, but about what we do best. And that, arguably, is Zinfandel.

  Most of these great Zins come from Dry Creek Valley and surrounding areas (mostly Rockpile and parts of the Russian River Valley). But the choice of Zinfandel is almost too easy.

  So I'm going to say Sauvignon Blanc may just be Sonoma's best grape. At least it's the most underrated wine from the county. There are 16,000 acres of Chardonnay grown in Sonoma County. Sauv Blanc is in a distant second place for white wines with 2,700 acres.

  It's mostly grown in Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. It can be floral, grassy, tart, lemony, grapefruity, refreshing, crisp, green apple. People who love SB usually like it for it's refreshing qualities. I call it the IPA (a hoppy beer) of wines.

  There are many great Sauv Blancs from Sonoma County. Some consistent ones at the inexpensive end are Geyser Peak and Kenwood Vineyards. Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Vyds and Hanna are great producers, also. There are dozens more from Angeline to Windsor Oaks. Note that some wineries call their Sauvignon Blanc by the California made-up name of Fume (foo-may) Blanc.

  The great thing is Sauvignon Blanc isn't all that expensive compared to many wines. Why? You can get a fairly high tonnage per acre of grapes and keep high quality. Most don't use any expensive oak. They just go to stainless steel tanks then maybe four months later into the bottle. This all keeps the cost down.

  Sauv Blanc is especially important to those shopping for a $10-$15 white wine. Forget the Chardonnay, the white blends, and forget the Pinot Gris. Check out the value you get with Sauvignon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc "in the wild"