When Paul Steinauer was young, he had a thimble full of wine and said, "dood wine (good wine)."

"I was destined to be a winemaker," he said.

Steinauer is the winemaker behind our wine-of-the-week winner — the Flora Springs, 2012 Oakville Sauvignon Blanc at $25.

It's a sassy sauvignon blanc with zesty aromas and flavors. It's complex, with notes of honeysuckle, pear and lime, and it has a crisp finish.

Steinauer has a good pulse on sauvignon blanc.

"It's my favorite white wine to drink, so I drink a lot of sauvignon blancs in the course of a year from all over the world," he said.

Steinauer said the most challenging part of making sauvignon blanc is deciding when to harvest the fruit.

The goal is to "strive for physiological ripeness, yet retain enough natural acidity to carry it through," he said.

What the uninitiated don't know about sauvignon blanc is how versatile the wine is, Steinauer said.

"It's equally as enjoyable to consume by itself, but friendly enough to pair with a plethora of dishes from a citrus salad to your favorite seafood dish," he said.

This marks Steinauer's 23rd year at Flora Springs in St. Helena, and before that he worked at Joseph Phelps Vineyards, also in St. Helena.

What most people may not know about Steinauer is that he's a frequent flyer.

"I have traveled to over 40 countries on all 7 continents," he said.

What makes him a good winemaker, Steinauer said, is that he's never lost his passion for the art of wine.

As he puts it, "I have never awakened on Monday morning and not wanted to go to work."


Wine of the Week: Scouting for the tastiest sauvignon blancs

Wine writer Peg Melnik had a blind tasting this week of sauvignon blancs, from fruit-forward to tangy.

Our winner is the Flora Springs, 2012 Oakville Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2 percent alcohol, at $25.

TOP PICK: Flora Springs

Flora Springs, 2012 Oakville Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2 percent alcohol, $25. ****

A sassy sauvignon blanc with zesty aromas and flavors. Notes of lemongrass, lime and pear, with a crisp finish. Tangy.

Others worth mentioning:

Aurora Point, 2011 Stonestreet, Alexander Mountain Estate, Sauvignon Blanc, 14.5 percent, $40. ****

A complex wine with notes of melon, pear and a hint of jalape?. Fleshy texture. Nice length.

Raymond, 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.5 percent, $15. ***?

A tasty sauvignon blanc with a range of flavors — grapefruit, guava and white pepper. Great minerality buoys the wine. Refreshing.

Kunde, 2012 Magnolia Lane Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 13.8 percent, $15. ****

A bright wine, citrusy and balanced. Nice undercurrent of spice. Notes of lemon, lime and a hint of grass.

Sebastiani, 2012 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5 percent, $19. ***?

Grassy, with bright fruit and a round fleshiness. Nice length.

<i>Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached by calling 521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com.</i>