Un-American Sauvignon Blanc: Signaterra Shone Farm 2010

aerialWine drinkers aren’t usually on the fence about Sauvignon Blanc; some drink it regularly, probably as their first choice for an aperitif wine, while others wouldn’t order it if it was the only white on the glass pour list.

The style that die-hard Sauv Blanc drinkers enjoy is crisp, clean, and snappy. They usually love Sauv Blanc from New Zealand, which has gone from zero to hero in the wine world by exporting a style that screams pink grapefruit and lime. Many American winos have fallen in love with that style, which until recently was conspicuously absent in domestic Sauv Blancs.

Enter Benziger Signaterra Shone Farm Sauvignon Blanc 2010. The appellation on the bottle is Russian River, which you all probably know is one of Calfornia’s cooler growing regions. But it’s known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; Sauv Blanc is more common in the Napa Valley.

Shone Farm Vineyard is in a corner of the Russian River where soils are relatively low pH and get good sun exposure. The winemaker credits these factors with preserving good natural acidity while ripening the grapes fully. The result is….a lot more like Europe than California.

From the first sniff, the Benziger’s Shone Farm Sauvignon Blanc screamed, “flinty and minerl-ly,” just like a host of European whites. I got pear and green apple aromas along with the citrus. The first sip made my mouth pucker with acid and lime-y flavors, but it needed time to open up. This was one of those whites that need to be closer to room temperature to show all their stuff. I started to taste pineapple and feel a creamy texture — but still underscored by the crisp acid and minerals.

This wine was carefully made to create complex flavors while preserving freshness and minerality. It wouldn’t have worked, though, without the fruit from this vineyard. These grapes make possible the kind of fresh, mouth-watering, cool-climate white wine that  Americans are turning to after drinking too much heavy California Chardonnay. If that’s what you’re after, Signaterra Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice. Cheers!




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