Angeline Sauvignon Blanc Showdown
Here’s a set of wines that will give you gooseberry bumps. Not sure what gooseberries are, or what they have to do with Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc? Just blame the Kiwis.
Although some of the more expensive and respected wines of France are made from Sauvignon Blanc, it was a sleepy category in California until winemakers in a remote archipelago in the South Pacific usurped the title of “world’s most fascinating Sauvignon Blanc producers” in the 1990s, or thereabouts.
Now, Sonoma County winemakers are expected to describe their Sauvignon Blanc as a Bordeaux style, a Sancerre style, or a New Zealand style. But are these categories elective per winemaking style, you might ask, or are they more dependent upon the climate and appellation where the grapes are grown?
You ask such interesting questions.
Martin Ray Winery’s popular Angeline brand of wines is a great value, and the Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc has been consistent for several years, in my notes. But how does its dolled-up doppelganger, the new Angeline Signature Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, compare?
Let’s taste them side by side.
The Angeline 2014 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($15) smells like cut grass at first, then watermelon rind aromas take over and settle in, under a bit of a sulfur note. Green apple, even Jolly Rancher flavors brighten up the resident honeydew melon character of this crisp, quaffable and, dare I say, somewhat New Zealand-style Sauvy.
Partly fermented in oak barrels, the Angeline Signature Reserve 2013 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($20) shows a little of that wood, and it’s also got fresh, bitter melon on the palate, with hints of pear Cotlet powdered candy on the nose, and an astringent but agreeable finish. You might expect the Signature Reserve, with its partial oak barrel aging, to trend toward a French style, but there’s not enough extra acidity and finesse to distinguish it that much, for now, from the regular (albeit different vintage) Angeline.
For zippy drinkability now, as an aperitif, I’d go with the 2014 Angeline; with sushi, lemon pepper fish or a salad, the 2013 Signature Reserve might be just a kiwi bit — sorry — a teeny bit better suited.