It's unfortunate how sometimes the best way to describe something you like is a word or phrase that doesn't normally make people think good thoughts. Such is the unfortunate case for Sauvignon Blanc which, at times, manages to smell just a little like cat piss.
Yes. I know. Who would drink a wine that reeks of a vengeful or incontinent feline?
I've definitely experienced a few wines (mostly old Sancerres or Pouilly Fumes) in which this aroma was so overpowering I could not bring myself to drink them. However in many wines it is a mere background aroma, one that blends in with stronger scents of fruit, flowers, and all things pleasing. It is there, however, and in writing descriptions of the way such wines smell, I would be remiss to not mention it. Such is the case with this little wine from Westerly Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Owned by Neil and Francine Afromsky, Westerly Vineyards is a 200-acre ranch which supplies grapes to producers like Babcock, Longoria, Fiddlehead, Ojai and Foxen, as well as making small quantities under its own name. Winemaker Seth Kunin produces both a Viognier and a Sauvignon Blanc from their estate fruit and in recent years, from other vineyards in the area.
This is an unusually colored wine, far more golden than you would expect from a Sauvignon Blanc, with a refreshing, aromatic nose of green apple, citrus zest, and wet slate, in addition to the common Sav Blanc aroma referenced above. In the mouth it is far more restrained than its nose would lead you to believe, its flavors predominantly dry nuts, unripe pears, and a slight heated wash of alcohol on the finish. The wine has nice acid level that makes it refreshing to drink, and combined with the more earthy flavors, makes this more of a European style wine than an American or New Zealand.
This is a good fish wine that will cut through a light cream or butter sauce like that of this red snapper with lemon-marjoram butter.
Overall Score: 7.5/8
How Much?: $20
This wine is available for sale through various Internet merchants. Try Wine Searcher.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards Vinography Images: Rows of Gold A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22 I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune