Friday, June 11, 2010

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc 2009

I've had a couple of Riesling's from this producer before--they were quite good, and most importantly, cheap. I've never had their Sauvignon Blanc, but I was definitely willing to give it a try for 12$ (I think) at Costco. I've found that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is one of those categories of wine where you always pretty much know what you're going to get. This is both useful and maddening at the same time. Take Cotes du Rhone for instance--you don't know what you're going to get unless you do your homework. It could be many different grapes--anything from Grenache to Syrah, maybe Mourvedre, and any number of combinations of other grapes. It could be New World and monolithic. It could be tart and acidic. It could be anywhere in between. The point being, there is a ton of variation. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, on the other hand, doesn't seem to suffer from the same fate. Sure, there are differences, but when I get a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I can be pretty sure that I'm going to get some tropical fruit, lots of acidity, and above all else, that jalapeno-cut grass thing. This particular bottle, although plagued by "marketing," is quintessential New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and a ripping example of it. Lots of melon, lime, jalapeno and grass, and a perfect balance of acidity and ripe fruit. Finely textured, layered, and nuanced. This is a fantastic bottle of wine--I'm definitely picking up a few of these to have around the house this summer. Now briefly back to the marketing--it says "Cellar Selection" on the bottle. Are we too dumb to figure out what's good and what's bad? What happened to "reserve?" Who the fuck ages Sauvignon Blanc for long anyways? Is this a sign that the category of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is off to face the same problems as Aussie Shiraz--and thus needs crappy marketing terms like "Cellar Selection" to appear on bottle for gullible consumers? My guess is that with little distinction between wines in the category, and good wines available for around 10$, yes. Although you should definitely try this wine--over-supply is a good thing, and I think this wine is a fantastic deal. A

Also--if you have a second, you owe it to yourself to check out W. Blake Gray's posts on Mega Purple. It's crazy that wine is so un-regulated/un-transparent that wineries aren't required to list what goes into their wines. And also, really, who fucking cares about color in a wine? I stopped paying attention a long time ago, for a really specific reason--it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is how the wine tastes, smells, and goes with food. What it looks like is completely irrelevant. People should glom onto W. Blake Gray--he's seems like he's one smart dude, and I like his stuff.


Gregory said...

Thanks for the link on Mega Purple. I've been reading that blog recently--it's a good one. I know I've had my share of unnaturally dark cheap wines. Usually I blame it on Petite Sirah. But Mega Purple takes it up a notch. Disgusting stuff, all because people obsess over color instead of flavor and aroma. I guess it's true I won't buy a bruised apple--I like them shiny and waxy--but smashed fruit usually means brown, mealy bruised flesh. Not so with wine.

Jeff said...

Yeah, W. Blake Gray is great. He used to be a writer for the SF Chronicle. Anyways, his site is pretty good, and his comments are spot on. I really don't get the color obsession. Look at Nebbiolo-based wines or Pinot Noir for instance--they're typically pretty light-colored, and they're amongst the most interesting and complex wines. Do I care if they're some shade of purple, or a light shade of red? No, it doesn't matter.

CabFrancoPhile said...

Weird, blogger posted under my other account, not my CabFranc one. But yeah, lighter color usually means better wines now! It's only the manipulated and over-extracted/high pH wines that are dark. A light wine means one that is that way by nature as the thin overcropped wines are dyed purple.

Really, it's scandalous. Ingredients should be listed on wine just like anything else. We'll see how many people use Mega Purple when they can't deceive consumers.

Jeff said...

I wondered who the random person that left a comment was...not a lot of people really reading this site on a regular basis. Mainly they come in from searches on some wine at Trader Joes...which probably has Mega Purple in it! I guess that's what people want right?

In all seriousness, the wine labeling (or lack thereof as in the case of Mega Purple), really speaks more to the failure of the US to adequately regulate food. Mega Purple is a symptom of a food system that is fundamentally flawed. It goes in the same boat as all of the agricultural policies we have that make crappy food artificially cheap at the expense of healthy stuff like fruits and vegetables. Ultimately, it's what passes as "food science," but it's really nothing of the sort. Two crazy thoughts that I have about whether or not we'll ever seen wine labeled according to what's in it: 1. most consumers probably don't care; it's just a small vocal minority. A lot of people are willing to consume HFCS, consume feedlot meat, or happily chow down on various other corn products that end up in processed foods. 2. Vintners are probably NOT on the Randall Graham bandwagon, and their cohorts working for distributors have lots of lobbyists. I doubt we'll see it anytime soon. :(