Break the rules: I like my SBs over-chilled.
Break the rules: I like my SBs over-chilled.

2009 Sauvignon Republic (Sonoma) Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

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Break the rules: I like my SBs over-chilled.
VERDICT: "Alrighty then"
New Zealand, Marlborough
Sauvignon Blanc, 13.0% alc.
Review by Clinton Stark

The no hitter was looking oh-so-promising. Then Mr. Sauvignon Republic steps up. Would this wine surprise and spoil the party and somehow find a way to reach base? Deep into the ninth. The varietal, Sauvignon Blanc, is the first problem: strike one. Screw top, poor form: strike two. But before this bottle went down swinging it showed some feistiness thanks to New Zealand-sourced spunk: not too floral (the primary reason this varietal ranks generally low on my list), a welcome crispness. The label suggests a sushi pairing, and I bet that would be a decent experience, although I haven’t had the chance to try it, plus who can argue against Champagne and Sushi?

Break the rules: I like my SBs over-chilled.
Break the rules: I like my SBs over-chilled (especially during summer).

Note that I like the acidity. Just like I enjoy strong espresso. Pure, please. And so it is with wines; herbaceousness is for the garden, and knitting parties. So is too much jammy fruit, hence my reluctance sometimes when it comes to Zinfandel.

You can find this wine at Trader Joe’s for around $7 – a bargain. Pricing and availability, like a lot of products at TJ’s, may vary, especially considering this one is rumored to come from a defunct producer. Still, it’s worth trying if you can find some on the local shelves. Don’t expect layers, complexity. I’d never serve it with company. Casual BBQ, maybe. It’s a decent daily sipper. I’m not going out of my way to find a bottle, but it’s an acceptable stocker given its price point.

When it comes to Sauvignon Blancs, Malborough has the value equation locked. Kim Crawford is most widely known and for under $20 is also a decent value. But where Kim exhibits nuanced herbal notes, the Republic comes out swinging hard. It might not look pretty at times, but it’s much better, at least in my books, then most under $20 SBs. Interesting that this Sonoma-based operation would source New Zealand grapes and apply the formula.

Once again, disregard the notion of price when it comes to wine. Emphatically. It’s one of the wine marketers’ foremost positioning weapons. Take the same wine, and give it two different labels, with two different price points, and you can target two different buyers. A lot of our wine experience is perception. No doubt, there are variances of course when it comes to grape pricing, and quality of vineyards. I disagree, though, with those that pooh-pooh the notion of wine under $20, for example, as purely “beverage.” If that were the case, could you take the same bottle, make it $50-$100 and it would suddenly become special? Nah. No way. Again, there are good wines and bad wines. But price is not necessarily the best predictor.

Well-regarded wine writer and judge Dan Berger even touched upon it in his presentation yesterday at the PS (Petite Sirah) – I Love You symposium in Livermore: “Price has nothing to do with wine quality.”

I used to work for a French CEO. It was tough taking those business trips to Paris. Mon dieux. France, of course, is wonderful, despite the French people. He used to tell me over dinner, both in Paris, and in Palo Alto (Zibibbo!) that he believed price was absolutely the worst indicator of a wine’s quality. Eh bien, mon ami. I agree.

Stark Sips
2009 Sauvignon Republic (Sonoma)
Sauvignon Blanc
New Zealand
Alc 13%
85 pts
$7 (try Trader Joe’s)
Clint says: I’m not going out of my way to find a bottle, but it’s an acceptable stocker given its price point.

Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear