I haven’t bought a Sauvignon Blanc for a while. Partially because I was exploring different white grape varieties. Partially because I lately grew to be somewhat “tired” of the typical Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, with its “in your face” big, grapefruity flavors… I have tasted a fair amount of those over the years, and after a while, it kind of make them taste all the same. I don’t want to sound like I am generalizing here, but I guess I kind of am.To be fair, I do love the grape from different parts of the world – like Sancerre (but it became very pricey), even some interesting Sauvignon Blancs from California lately, like Ferrari – Carano or perhaps Decoy.
So, when I visited this wine store in my new hometown (support your local business, you know?), I searched around the aisles to buy some new, exciting, unknown whites. In my search I was kind of avoiding Chardonnays, Pinot Grigios and Sauvignon Blancs. Unfortunately, when it came to “alternative whites”, the choices were very limited. I don’t get it. When you come to a small wine store, ran by the owner who is actually really running the store personally, what better opportunity to introduce some “less known” grape varieties? What a chance to taste something new with your customers! To distinguish yourself from all those package stores…. Or is it too much work?
I know, Kendall – Jackson Chardonnay or Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio doesn’t need further introduction and it sells itself. But I can buy it cheaper at the grocery store or in Costco, right? I like to shop at small wine shops for a reason. I guess I have this professional handicap, influenced by the years spent on the road. How many store owner’s excuses I heard when they didn’t want to bring in a new wine! Even if they loved the taste, and it represented a true value.
To me, that’s where the biggest difference lies in the quality of the wine shop: one store would pass and argue “nobody ever asked for it” (my favorite excuse, and I am being sarcastic here), and the other would take it with customer already in mind “OMG, this is so good, I can’t wait to show it to Xyz… he is going to love it!” That’s why some stores, with such a personal approach, don’t have to worry about competition, ever.
Eventually, I came across this white label, a Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca Valley, Chile. Hm, that’s a different story! I love Chilean wines. Although, this one wasn’t particularly bargain that I am used to from Chile (but $13.99 isn’t that bad for Sauvignon Blanc), I grabbed it together with some 3 other whites, I found interesting throughout the store.
We opened Casa Julia 2011 Sauvignon Blanc last night – and immediately I regretted that I only bought one bottle. Oh my, that wine was sooo good! Pale in yellow color, with lovely aroma of green gooseberries (no, it wasn’t the sweet grapefruit). The first sip offered an amazing, mouthful of superb fruity goodness. Beautifully balanced with acidity, despite the slightly higher alcohol level. Great finish that makes you long for more.This wasn’t the ‘usual suspect Sauvignon Blanc’.
The wine made me smile. I loved every sip of it. No wonder, I later found out that Casa Julia is a part of T. Edwards Wines portfolio, a company that specializes in hand crafted, authentic wines, and pays uncompromising attention to the soil, the style of farming and the terroire.
The wine’s back label says: “Casa Julia wines are produced from grapes grown in the clay-rich soils of Chile’s Casablanca valley, a region noted for the exceptional purity of the fruit flavors in its wines. The balance of intensity and elegance that is the trademark of these delicious wines, is achieved by allowing these old vines to speak for them selves.”
I can just sign that statement, with one exception. To me, the wine was signing, not speaking. It was truly an uplifting, special experience and if it wasn’t that late at night, I would run back to buy some more. Great wine, Casa Julia, and kudos to the owner of the store for bringing it in!!! Maybe I wasn’t too fair with my judgement and the first impression, after all!