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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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Entries in Sauvignon Blanc (25)

Wednesday
Oct262011

Too Expensive for a White Wine? The Dagueneau 2009's Are Here!

2009 Domaine Didier Dagueneau "Silex" Pouilly-Fumé By: Eric Story | K&L Loire Valley Wine Buyer

Don’t let yourself be fooled. Ask any winemaker and he/she will tell you that the process of making white wine is by far one of the most difficult things a winemaker can do. To create white wines that are considered world class and some of the most prestigious wines to ever be bottled is quite a feat indeed. 

This is what happens with Sauvignon Blanc at Domaine Didier Dagueneau in France's Loire Valley. Didier's son Benjamin took over for his father’s untimely death back in 2008. Since then he has not only filled the huge shoes that his father left behind, but has begun lacing up a bigger pair. This kid is frustratingly talented (I say that because he is younger than me) and is making legendary wines from the place where he was born, raised, respects and is proud to show off.

Here is a quick rundown of the different cuvées:

2009 Domaine Didier Dagueneau "Silex" Pouilly-Fumé ($109.99)

Produced from vines ranging in age from 15-50 years old planted high on the slopes of Saint Andelain (the highest village in the Pouilly-Fume appellation) and only from vineyard plots that have an extremely high content of silex. The vines are cropped to produce much lower yields than most. The juice is then barrel fermented and then aged in the famous Dagueneau cigar barrels. Since there is a much lower clay content in the soils, this wine is typically much more austere in its youth and needs a fair amount of time to come into itself. This is considered the Domain’s top wine and often referred to as their “Grand Cru”.

2009 Domaine Didier Dagueneau "Buisson Renard" Pouilly Fumé ($89.99)

Produced from vines from a single plot located mid-slope on the southwest side of Saint Andelain. The soil here is a nearly perfect and harmonious mixture of clay and silex. It is barrel fermented and aged in mostly neutral 450 and 600 liter barrels. This site was formally known as Buisson Menard until a French journalist committed the mistake of calling is Buisson Renard and it has been known as such since.  

 

 

2009 Domaine Didier Dagueneau "Pur Sang" Pouilly-Fumé

2009 Domaine Didier Dagueneau "Pur Sang" Pouilly-Fumé ($79.99)

This is made mostly from a south/southwest vineyard site called “La Folie” which is located just north of Saint Andelain. There is a very small percentage of silex here but the soils are deep and contain rich clay with some chalky limestone. The wines are then treated very much in the same way as the “Silex” cuvée. This is typically the most popular cuvée from the domaine.

 

2009 Domaine Didier Dagueneau "Blanc Fumé de Pouilly"

2009 Domaine Didier Dagueneau "Blanc Fumé de Pouilly" ($64.99) 

This is the “entry level” cuvée – if there is such a thing. Produced from younger vine plots not actually on the hill of Saint Andelain. The entire purpose of this wine is to show off the pure expression of Sauvignon Blanc from the typical Pouilly Fumé terroir. Always a good showing of up front minerals and citrus with plenty of supporting weight coming through the finish.

 

Thursday
Sep082011

Wine of the Week: 2009 Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc Western Cape, South Africa ($18.99)

Relax with a bottle of this stunning South African Sauvignon Blanc, the 2009 Ataraxia Western Cape ($18.99) - in stock now at KLWines.com'Ataraxia' (Greek for 'tranquility'), is a term used by Pyrrho and Epicurus for a "lucid state, characterized by freedom from worry or any other preoccupation."* The next time you find yourself seeking a wine to complement your moment of relaxation - be it watching the sun set at the beach, walking through the garden, sunning by the pool, or cocktails on the dock, you will find this invigorating and complex Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa - the 2009 Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc ($14.99) - to be a worthy sipping companion. No pungent herbaceous notes here; this wine smells of meyer lemons and apples, with accents of flint and white pepper. The palate is round and deep, with juicy acids that lead to a persistent and mouthwatering finish. Fans of Sancerre take note. 

"Situated on 125 acres of some of the most stunning elevations in Walker Bay, these vineyards are planted in billion year old granite and weathered shale soils exposed to the cooling breezes of the nearby South Atlantic. The result is a Sauvignon Blanc of terrific purity and finesse, with subtle flavors of grapefruit, lemon zest, melon and fleshy gooseberry interwoven upon the palate, finishing with a fine thread of green tea and minerality." -John Majeski, K&L Staff Member

91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, Mar/Apr 11

90 points Wine Spectator, Sept 11

***

More From Down Under: K&L San Francsico-based John Majeski specializes in wines from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Check out John's latest wine reviews as well as hundreds of recent reviews by other K&L staff members on the K&L Staff Review Page.    

 

 

*Source for definition of 'ataraxia': Wikipedia

Tuesday
Jan042011

Top 10 White Wines Under $25 to Start the Year

While a large majority of us drink more red wine in the winter, it's still nice to have white wines on hand for when the weather warms up or the meal calls for it. Here are our top 10 best selling white wines under $25 to help you get started. Is it me, or do these deals seem even better in the "off-season?"

10. 2009 Kalinda Rheingau Riesling Qba ($10.99) A staff favorite (we're almost all sluts for Riesling). K&L's Chiara Shannon says it best: "With moderate alcohol, bright lime and floral aromatics and flavors, and unctuous acidity to balance the subtle residual sugar, this wine tastes great with just about anything. It is especially handy for take-out and leftover nights, or when you are feeling like having a little wine with lunch...at $10.99 this should be a kitchen staple."

9. 2006 Jo Pithon "Les Bergères" Anjou Blanc ($11.99) From K&L's David Othenin-Girard: "This is what I want to be drinking all the time...It begins with an intense nutty aromas, backed by spice and carmelized pear. As the bottle aerates, the nuttiness takes a back seat, and more vibrant citrus comes forward. Versatile and complex. At this new price (previously $26), this is one of my favorite wines int he store right now.

8. 2008 Patient Cottat "Le Grand Cailliou" Sauvignon Blanc ($10.99) I served the 2007 at my wedding and wowed quite a few people with this wine's freshness and versatility. Like a Sancerre for half the price!

7. 2007 Domaine André Auvigue Pouilly-Fuissé "Solutré" ($17.99) I bet you didn't expect to see a Pouilly-Fuissé on this list! Offered elsewhere at $45, this tasty white Burgundy is a steal at nearly half the price, with distinguishing hazelnut, mineral and floral notes to complement the Chardonnay fruit.

6. 2008 MaRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($19.99) If you prefer fuller-bodied, richer California Chardonnays, then this is up your alley. It's still balanced, with good minerality and acidity, and green apple rather than tropical fruit notes. 

5. Domaine Vocoret Chablis 1er Cru "La Forêt" ($19.99) The second white Burgundy on this list, and this time it's a Premier Cru. This wine sells for $30-35 elsewhere, and its character definitely belies even that more expensive price. Plenty of energy and richness, with classic Chablis limestone minerality.

4. 2009 Grüner by Etz Kamptal Grüner Veltliner (1L $11.99) Who doesn't love a big, juicy botlle of GrüVe? A staff favorite for lazy afternoons, this is lively, with white pepper, melon and ginger notes. Easily one of the best deals at K&L.

3. 2008 Talbott "Logan" Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay ($15.99) An wine under $20 with Parker points is a rare breed. This is a rich, fruit-driven California Chardonnay with tropical fruit and hints of oak spice.

2. 2008 Bernier Chardonnay Vins du Pays Jardin de la France ($6.99) This is NOT for the Rombauer fan, but instead for those who like their Chardonnays minerally, crisp, bright and quaffable. 

1. 2009 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Charnay ($12.99) K&L's Mike Jordan says: "Tired of the oaky, buttery Chardonnay? This is the wine to try: unoaked, but with great mid-palate weight and acidity. This is the style of Chardonnay I love, and I think you will too."

Leah Greenstein