Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Split Personality? Dry Creek Vineyard Crafts Two Very Different Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a sprightly wine, bright with acidity. The wine maker’s touch can produce elegance or electricity.

Deciphering Fumé Blanc

Are you a wine lover who is puzzled when greeted with a bottle of Fumé Blanc? It’s from California, but the exotic jargon may cause shoppers to stroll down the aisle. Don’t make that mistake!

Fumé Blanc is Sauvignon Blanc. The term was originally coined by Robert Mondavi’s winery. Some credit this marketing effort with propelling Sauvignon Blanc to become the second most popular white wine variety in California (behind Chardonnay). The term sometimes means an oaky style of Sauvignon Blanc.

Dry Creek Vineyard has a long history with Sauvignon Blanc. Winery founder David Stare loved the fresh Sauvignon Blanc of France’s Loire Valley. He became the first person to plant Sauvignon Blanc in the Dry Creek Valley AVA. Forty years later, Fumé Blanc continues to be the flagship wine of Dry Creek Vineyard.

There is no oak aging with the 2015 Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc. It is fermented in stainless steel and is crisp and balanced. On the nose there are citrus notes and a waft of minerality.

On the palate there is a refreshing rush of honeysuckle and apricots. It is a light wine with a vibrant acidity. It impresses with clean and pure flavors.

A perfect wine for hot weather – or to stir up sunny memories during a chilly fall. At $14, why stop at buying only one bottle?

Sauvignon Blanc Musqué Anyone?

With 40 years of pioneering Sauvignon Blanc in California, Dry Creek Vineyard has a few tricks up their sleeve. They produce five different Sauvignon Blanc wines including a dessert wine. They have a pair of single vineyard releases including the 2014 Taylor’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Musqué.

So what exactly is Sauvignon Blanc Musqué, you may ask. It is a Sauvignon Blanc clone. A clone is a subvariety of a particular grape that may have slight differences in aroma, flavor, vine health or ripening ability. For example, there are hundreds of Pinot Noir clones. Don’t confuse it with a “cross,” which is when two different grape varieties are cross-bred.

This wine comes from Taylor’s Vineyard on the western bench of Dry Creek Valley. It receives no oak aging to preserve its fresh fruit flavors.

In the glass it is pale yellow and swirling releases a grassy aroma with whiffs of citrus. It is a medium-bodied wine with a bit more restraint than the angular New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. There is a nice flowing acidity with crisp grapefruit flavors. The finish provides a pop of acid on the tongue.

The Musqué adds complexity compared with the typical Sauvignon Blanc. The flavors are deeper, the body fuller and a richer texture. This wine also has the potential to age for about five years – something that isn’t typical for most white wines. It would be interesting to see how the flavor profile changes in a few years.

This duo of wines shows the possibilities of Sauvignon Blanc. The Fumé is a crowd pleasing wine for any occasion. The delicious Taylor’s Vineyard Musqué provides a more adventurous experience. It still is a strong value at $20. Regrettably, the 2014 vintage has been sold out – but this wine has been produced each year since 2011, so expect a new vintage in the not too distant future.

Full disclosure: We received these wines as marketing samples.

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