Josh Baker says sauvignon blanc is at its best when it's racy.
Baker is the winemaker behind our wine-of-the-week winner -- the Edna Valley, 2011 Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc at $15.
This sauvignon blanc has bright acid and layered flavors of grapefruit, peach, guava, mineral and spice. But Baker said its texture is what makes it a standout.
"The thing I like most about this sauvignon blanc is its texture," he said. "The wine shows racy acid and a very clean finish, but it still has some volume and viscosity in the mouth."
Baker said the most challenging part of making a great sauvignon blanc is battling green flavors.
"I'm a big fan of the herbal, grassy notes that sauvignon blanc is typically known for, but I like to stay away from the green bell-pepper or jalapeno pepper notes that sometimes come with sauvignon blanc," he said. "We manage canopies for better ripening and utilize the long growing season that the Edna Valley is known for to develop riper smells and flavors."
Other standouts in the flight include: Tyler Florence, 2010 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $20; Hanna, 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $19; and Paul Dolan Vineyards, 2011 Potter Valley Mendocino, $18.
Baker said making sauvignon blanc is gratifying, especially when you can pinpoint balance.
"It's a wine in which balance is absolutely key," Baker said. "Managing to create a wine that's vibrant, fresh and mineral-driven with notes of citrus and riper tropical flavors while maintaining style typical of California sauvignon blancs is quite a task, but very rewarding."
As the winemaker of Edna Valley Vineyards in San Luis Obispo, Baker has a strategy when he tackles sauvignon blanc.
"The vines we source from were planted in 1972 and are still on their own roots," he said. "They produce intensely flavored clusters that typically harvested much later than other white wines in the valley. The long growing season really allows us to let the fruit hang much longer than sauvignon blanc in other areas. The result are flavors of a more tropical nature than one might find in sauvignon blancs from other areas."