Robin Garr's Tasting Notes
© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

We pulled these together in one place
To see all of Robin's review's visit Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page

sale.gif (215 bytes) Three New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs
sale.gif (215 bytes) Two California Sauvignon Blancs
sale.gif (215 bytes) Four South African Savignon Blancs
sale.gif (215 bytes) Two Australian Savignon Blancs

Iron Horse 1996 "T Bar T" Alexander Valley Fumé Blanc ($15.99)
Clear, pale straw color. Heady, floral aromas over fresh-cut grass. Although Viognier
makes up only 20 percent of the blend, its signature aroma seems to dominate. Full,
crisp and tart flavors, fresh fruit backed by a pleasant bitterness that lingers. Excellent
wine, although pushing the limits for value in the Sauvignon/Fumé Blanc niche.

Cloudy Bay 1996 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc ($13.99)
This long-awaited treasure finally got to our local market, seemingly months behind its
arrival all over the rest of the world. The good news, though, is that the price did not go
up from last year, although with a rumored Wine Spectator 94 rating coming down the
pike, that may not last. It's delicious, as expected, although it seems to me that its style
has changed a bit from past vintages. It still has that intense Sauvignon quality that I
love, but it seems like a bigger, brawnier, more powerful wine than before -- did last
year's really rise to 13.5% alcohol? -- which is OK, I guess, but somehow it seemed to
lack the balance of past vintages.
It's a clear, pale greenish-gold color, with delicious "green" Sauvignon Blanc
aromas of gooseberry, green-chile and just a faint whiff of the characteristic "cat spray"
or "boxwood." Flavors are consistent with the nose, adding ripe citric notes; full and
round, with substantial body added by firm acidity and warm alcohol. Very mouth-filling
and ripe, almost overpowering the food on the table (roast chicken). A lot of wine here,
but the volume's set almost too high; maybe it will come together with a little time in the
bottle. Importer: Cliquot Inc., NYC. (May 29, 1997)

Selaks 1996 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99)
Clear, pale brass color with full, pleasant green-chile and olive aromas. Full and bright
flavor, a crisp and delicious citric "snap" with that green-chile character adding
complexity. Clean and consistent in a long finish. Importer: American Estates Wines Inc.,
Philadelphia. (May 24, 1997)

Freestone 1995 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99)
Very pale greenish-gold color. Pleasant citric aroma with light grassy notes, consistent
on the palate with good but discreet grass and green-olive elements over a snappy citric
tang. Good, balanced wine. Appears to be a second label of Napa's Von Strasser
winery using purchased grapes. (May 14, 1997)

Sanford 1996 Central Coast (California) Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99)
This one's a perennial favorite, so I was eager to get my first taste of the '96, particularly
since the '95 had somewhat moved away from the totally "green-chile" and "cat-spray"
position that made earlier vintages such a delight. This one, like last year's, is close to the
middle of the road in the aroma department, but its huge (14%) alcoholic content makes
it big and full, anything but characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc. It's definitely ... interesting.
Clear straw color. Good, characteristic Sauvignon Blanc aroma blends green
chile-pepper and citrus scents. Full, ripe fruit, rich and round, warming and surprisingly
strong for a sauvignon Blanc. Impressive wine, but the body and strength render it
almost overbalanced. It may come together more with a little time in the bottle. (April
24, 1997)

Voss Vineyards 1995 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99)
Very pale brass color. Grapefruit scent forward, backed by ripe green chile peppers and
a subtle whiff of boxwood or, if you prefer, "cat spray." Tasty citric flavor, full and crisp,
with that delicious green-chile flavor lingering in a long finish. Very good Sauvignon
indeed, but who's Voss? I can't find the brand in my industry directories, and the label
language ("bottled by") suggests a negociant. (March 26, 1997)

Silverado Vineyards 1995 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($24/restaurant price)
Pale straw coor. Good grassy and green-chile aromas, consistent on the palate with a
touch of oak in a full, dry flavor; grass and green peas persist in a medium-long finish.
Plenty of stuffing to stand up to the gently spicy Asian-Creole fusion cuisine at Mike's on
the Avenue in New Orleans. (Feb. 1, 1997)

Rochioli 1995 Russian River Valley Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($12.99)
Clear, pale straw color. Appetizing aromas of melon, figs and dates, with just a whiff of
the herbal character of Sauvignon Blanc peeking through. Full and rich, oak evident but
not dominant; crisp mixed-fruit flavors and some buttery quality. It's "manipulated," as I
said, but to give it due credit, it's well-handled and a fine wine. (Dec. 7, 1996)

Turley 1993 Turley Vineyard Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($15)
Clear straw color. Full grapefruit and green-pea aromas with whiffs of pears and tropical
fruit, an amazingly complex "nose" that gets better and better with time in the glass. Full
and mouth-filling, some oak present, with plenty of acidic structure. (Nov. 18, 1996)

Sanford 1995 Santa Barbara County Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99)
Clear light gold. Intense Sauvignon aroma, green chiles and bell peppers, fresh and ripe.
Big, full flavor, carries through on the nose's promise; tart, citric fruit with good
herbaceous complexity, warm and rich (a startling 14% alcohol). Clean and lasting in a
long finish. Made a great match with bluefish grilled over hickory. (Aug. 29, 1996)

Chateau St. Jean 1994 Sonoma County Fumé Blanc ($7.99)
Clear, light greenish-gold. Musky melon, fig and tropical fruit aromas, redolent of oak.
Fresh citric flavor, dry and tart, with a full, almost buttery quality that's more in the
Chardonnay style than classic Sauvignon Blanc. Why in the $#@% do they feel that they
have to DO this!? It's a well-made wine, but if I wanted Chard, I would have asked for
Chard. Some Semillon in the cuvee, partially barrel-fermented in French and American
oak. (Aug. 7, 1996)

Markham 1994 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($8.99)
Clear, light greenish-gold. Light green-chile and lemon-lime, a good blend of the citric
and "green" styles of Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh, crisp flavor, well balanced and clean, with
cleansing citric tartness in a long finish. Last tasted exactly 12 months ago; little changed,
but a "cat-spray" element then present seems to have muted into green-chile and
green-olive. (June 22, 1996)

Pacific Rim (Bonny Doon) 1995 Monterey Sauvignon Blanc ($9.49)
Clear, pale brass color. Grapefruit, green-olive and green-pepper notes play in a fresh,
complex aroma; flavors consistent with the nose, full and ripe, almost a Technicolor
example of Sauvignon Blanc flavors, nothing subtle here, but well-balanced and
appealing. Those who know my taste for herbaceous, "catty" Sauvignon will be
reassured to know that this one is closer to the middle of the road. But it's a fine mouth
full of flavorful white all the same, made an excellent match with linguine in a garlicky
white clam sauce. (June 7, 1996)

Benziger 1994 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($8.99)
Very pale straw color. A whiff of citrus at first, but the dominant aroma is a pleasant but
oak-laden scent of pears. Rich and full and slightly buttery on the palate, with that
oaky-pear quality following through in a fairly long finish. It's certainly clean and
competently made, but it comes across with more of a Chardonnay style than Sauvignon
Blanc, and what's the point of that? (May 31, 1996)

Bernardus 1993 Monterey County Sauvignon Blanc ($8.99)
Clear, light greenish-gold. Green peppers and lemon-lime scents, bridges the gap
between the vegetal and citric styles. Round and fully, fresh fruit with a marked "buttery"
quality; more fat than lean, an unfortunate characteristic in an otherwise appealing
Sauvignon Blanc. Barrel-fermented, contains an undisclosed proportion of Semillon.
(April 20, 1996)

Cain 1993 "Musque" Monterey Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99)
Clear straw color. Potent aromas almost knock your head back from the glass: green
olive, damp grass, grapefruit, and a whiff of the oddly pleasant musky Sauvignon
character that can only be described as "cat spray." Clean and bright flavor, round and
mouth-filling; citric fruit and crisp acidity. Lemony citrus and grass hang on in a very long
finish. (Dec. 22, 1995)

Clos du Bois 1994 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($5.99)
Clear straw color. Grapefruit and grass, characteristic Sauvignon aromas; full, fresh fruit,
mouth-filling and round, definitely a California style made (using French oak) to evoke
the spirit of Chardonnay; there's plenty of structure here to save it, though (also contains
12% Semillon), and it went very well indeed with an asparagus risotto. (Nov. 5, 1995)