Sauvignon in the Spotlight

A selection of 2012 Sauvignon Blanc—did light strike again?

As the trickle of new wine from 2013 grows to a steady stream, it’s a good time to liquidate your inventory of light, fresh whites from the previous vintage. Like that bottle of 2012 Sauvignon Blanc that’s been gathering dust on the kitchen counter in that stylish little wrought-iron wine rack. Or is it too late?

“Light-struck” is not a 1980s musical or the sequel to Bottle Shock, but a wine flaw that develops when a bottle has been left out in natural light or interior lighting. A skunky or plastic aroma is typical. Brown glass offers the best protection, but it’s not as pretty as clear glass, which offers the worst protection. This week I blind-tasted seven Savvies, two of which were improperly stored for nearly a year, I’m sorry to say. Would they stand out? Maybe not, says Courtney Humiston, wine director at the Dry Creek Kitchen at Hotel Healdsburg, who advises, “If the temperature in your home stays relatively moderate, I would not expect a wine that has been struck by a little light to be spoiled.”

Napa Cellars 2013 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($18) Wouldn’t you know it, the one 2013 that snuck into the mix is the favorite. Fresh and enticing aromas of honeydew melon and cucumber, some weight without sweetness—maybe on account of the 14.5 percent abv.

Murphy-Goode 2012 The Fumé ($14) A lean brut without the spritz—powdered sugar on pear tart. Sour, but nice enough. The Fumé is partly barrel-fermented.

Taft Street 2012 Garagistes Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($25) Cat pee on a lemon tree; lemon blossom, barely ripe pear juice aromas. White grapefruit keeps the finish fresh and interesting. This new tier is available only at the winery.

Kendall-Jackson 2012 Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ($13) With a touch of Chardonnay plus Semillon and Viognier to tart it up, it’s got oak and apple aromas, and there’s a little of that K-J Vintner’s candy on the finish.

Martin Ray 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($20) Flowering vines, bitter melon; do not attempt without fish tacos.

Atalon 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($21) Stored on a rack in moderate light in a corner of the office, this had a match stick note on first whiff, and became not unpleasant on second tasting. Aromas and flavors of “white wine.”

Francis Ford Coppola 2012 Diamond Collection Sauvignon Blanc ($16) Whiling away the year in a wine rack that lets in filtered morning sunlight a few weeks of the year, this bitter wine’s lack of fruit may not be its fault—but I did not sniff it out at the “light-struck” sample, after all. On the plus side—a summertime savor of bitter melon rind.

Sonoma County Library