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Tom Cat or Gooseberry? Do you like the aroma of Sauvignon Blanc? 

I was curling up with my Wine Business Monthly the other night, tucking into an article about yeast for Sauvignon Blanc. (I’m not a winemaker but there’s a lot to learn around the edges of an article only tangentially related to one’s interests). And dang if it didn’t happen again. As I read about methoxypryrapzines and thiols I had an overwhelming urge to drink of the wine of which I read.

This happens regularly – whether I’m reading about yeast and craving a Sauvignon Blanc or reading The Sun Also Rises and craving something sparkly. I am a very suggestible reader.

I like SB that is more melon than green pepper, which according to this article by Curtis Phillips, is considered anti-varietal. This is not a condemnation, he merely divides SB into Varietal, Anti-Varietal, Oak-Influenced and Botrtized. So when I dashed off to the wine store to pick up a quick bottle to taste while I read, I was stymied about what to buy. Should I buy something that is “true” to the varietal, something from Marlborough perhaps, with lots of grass and gooseberry? According to Phillips, gooseberry= cat pee and “When someone describes a Sauvignon Blanc as an inherently derogatory term as ‘cat pee’ or ‘tom cat,’ what they are really saying is ‘I don’t like Sauvignon Blancs that smell like Sauvignon Blanc.’” Or should I forego the learning opportunity and buy something I was more assured to enjoy, something California, and leaning toward the tropical? Not surprisingly, labels tout the tropical and citrus flavors rather than green pepper or needless to say, cat pee. 

I shared my quandary with the nice lady at JV Wine and Spirits and she patted my arm and said, “Don’t over think it, honey.”

Good advice. She recommended DeSante 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (about $22) and I’m glad she did. When I sniffed the cork I smelled ripe peaches, the 20% Semillon makes it the kind of wine that I like to smell almost as much as I like to drink. My first sip reminded me of limeade right out of the can, and as it warmed in the glass, I tasted grapefruit and melon.

According to Desante’s website, this is a varietal Sauvignon Blanc, with grapes from St. Helena and Yountville, slow and cold fermented. I’ll have to try it again next to a New Zealand SB to taste the range of what is considered varietal. I’m not sure I would know the difference, but this struck me as a wine that was not overly manipulated. It grew on me, especially because it changed as the temperature changed and when I finished the bottle on the second day.


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