Monday, December 13, 2021

Dan Berger: Sauvignon Blanc

 Those involved in a close liaison with wine for decades make lots of demands on the wines we're happiest to consume.

    Just because a wine is tasty is no reason to get excited about it, I believe, if it fails one crucial test: it doesn't smell sort of like the grape listed on the front label. 

    When you buy a BMW, you expect it to do what a BMW is supposed to do. Likewise for any product that relies on performance -- writing instruments, knives, software... 

    If I buy a riesling and it smells more like aftershave or pomegranates, it's not a good example of riesling, no matter how "tasty" it may be.

    Holding wines to this standard isn't something most wine buyers do. If you're content to drink a $3.99 wine that has no varietal authenticity, you're probably happy it's wet. But when paying $15 or more, we should demand that it smell roughly like what it's supposed to. 

    But that calls for some expertise. If you can't describe what a cabernet is supposed to smell and taste like, it's hard to criticize it if it smells more like shoe polish or motor oil.

    Look at sauvignon blanc from different areas, all of which are valid, in my view. Although several sound bizarre, I've loved my lifelong learning of varietals tied to different soils.

    Start with the fact that sauvignon blanc isn't a floral variety. Its main aroma leans more on herbs. In cool climates, and especially in windy areas, it often displays green or herbal notes similar to grass, veggies, tarragon, green tea and green olives.

    In many areas of New Zealand, such as the cool, windy northern tip of the South Island (Marlborough), sauvignon blanc aromas are so distinctive that most wine lovers can identify not only the varietal but also the region. 

    Few areas of California can make wine like this. But some come close. Sonoma County's Russian River Valley, Livermore Valley, and parts of California's central coast, including Monterey County, often make sauvignons blancs with some of the same "green" aromas. 

    Decades ago, Monterey had yet to learn how to tame that character and some of its sauvignons blancs were too strong for some reviewers. With our recent understanding of the New Zealand style, many central coast sauvignons blancs today display fascinating faces that once might have been disparaged.

    California's Dry Creek Valley is cool enough to ripen the variety so it can deliver a bit more of the true varietal aroma. Although Russian River Valley can produce slightly more spice and exotic notes, Dry Creek sauvignons blancs seem to age a bit better.

    The Napa Valley's primary grape, cabernet sauvignon, prefers warmer climates. But Napa also has some sauvignon blanc that has delicate varietal nuances. (Some of these wines are aged in oak barrels, giving them a different expression.)

    Sauvignon blanc also grows extremely well in France's eastern Loire Valley. In Pouilly-Fume you get more "earthy" complexity; there are slightly more mineral elements in Sancerre.

    South Africa sauvignons blancs also can have "New Zealand-ish" aromatics, and sauvignons blancs from Chile (notably from Casablanca Valley) can be more floral and spiced.

    I have also tasted some unusual sauvignon blanc styles, such as California's Sierra Foothills and low-lying areas of Alexander Valley (dried hay), Austria (slate, brine, citrus peel), and northern Italy (pea pods). Despite the unusual descriptors, the wines were all fascinating.

    Wine of the Week: 2021 Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough ($16) -- This delightful New Zealand import comes from a region that normally displays more of the gooseberry, new mown hay, and distinctive "cat box" aromas. But this winery is one of the oldest in the area and the vines are some of the oldest in New Zealand, dating back nearly 50 years. That has given Allan and his family great knowledge on how to grow the fruit so it delivers more complexity, such as Asian pear and subtle spices. Best with seafood. Simply superb.

    To find out more about Dan Berger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a waste of writing space. After almost 16 hours after original post and mine is the first comment. That should tell you something KF

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS