Saturday, April 30, 2011

Showdown: Dueling California Sauvignon Blancs from Wine Insiders

Find prices and retail availability for bargain California sauvignon blanc.

The showdown:  I recently had the opportunity to try two sauvignon blancs from a recent Wine Insiders mixed case package.  Both were vinted and bottled by Jenna in San Martin, California.  Both were 2010 vintages.


Both retailed at the same price with Wine Insiders.  Both were designated as "California" region. Both had exactly the same corks (see picture).


Both showed the same color in the glass (see picture).


The only structural difference I could see from the labels was that Spencer Family Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc was finished at 12.5% alcohol, while Moon Crest Sauvignon Blanc was finished at 12.8% alcohol.

So, this showdown comes down to a .3% alcohol difference?   Let's see...

I made separate tasting notes on each wine (see links immediately below):
(LINKS)

But I can't resist highlighting the similarities or differences too.  First, from the perspective of aromas, the two were incredibly consistent:

Spencer: On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows deep, creamy grasses and sliced melons on the nose.   From the aroma, seems like this will have both depth, layers and brightness. 

Moon Crest: On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows perfumed, somewhat layered grasses and tropical fruit.   From the aroma, seems like this will be both soft and bright.

The palates showed a bit of distinction:



Spencer: On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact sweet and rich grass, almost butterscotch in feel, though not in flavors.  The sweet flavors are more restrained, think honeydew melon, with emphasis on the honey.   It is the mouthfeel that is reminiscent of butterscotch.  Sweet finish that nonetheless manages to last for quite awhile, turning crisper at the end, and vanishing cleanly.  A clean, soft take on sauvignon blanc, still with some verve and brightness.

Moon Crest: On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact sweet and round on the mid-palate, offering clean sugars and light fruit. Light, lively and lithe, with a line of minerality passing through the center of the easy, sweet fruit.  Finish is clean and crisp, not cloying at all.  But definitely a new world sauvignon, more round, supple and easy than piercing and brilliant.

The final outcome:  I rated Spencer Family Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc as just touching four stars; and Moon Crest Sauvignon Blanc as three stars with a big plus.  Spencer pulled away because of its slightly higher concentration of flavors and stronger acids which created a more potent counterpoint to the slightly sweet finish.  My hunch, though, is that these wines may share more than a regional designation, a price point, a vintner and a bottler.  My hunch is that that they share a significant quantity of grapes.

Pick any other sauvignon blanc randomly from around the world (or even around the west coast of the US) and it will differ from either or these more than they differ from each other.

Interesting experiment.  Bottom line, though , is that they are both tasty and excellent value new world-style sauvignon blancs.



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Find prices and retail availability for bargain California sauvignon blanc.

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