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Wine of the week: Husch Vineyards, 2020 Mendocino County, Sauvignon Blanc

This week’s blind tasting

Husch Vineyards, 2020 Mendocino County, Sauvignon Blanc, 13.9%, $16, 4 stars. This sauvignon blanc is as refreshing as the surf. Buoyed by crisp acid, it leads with aromas of lemongrass and on the palate, grapefruit and mineral. Finishes crisp. Impressive.

Dry Creek Vineyard, 2020 Sonoma County, Fume Blanc, 13.5%, $16, 4 stars. A complex fume blanc where citrus meets the tropics. Aromas and flavors of grapefruit and mango, with stone fruit of peach and apricot in the mix. Great minerality. Nice length. Striking.

Grieve, 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $90, 4 stars. Pretty stone fruit gives way to melon in this upscale sauvignon blanc. Balanced, with crisp acid, and complex with layered flavors. The Grieve has an incredible range. Gorgeous.

Grounded, 2020 California Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%, $15, 3.5 stars. A creamy sauvignon blanc with notes of peach, lemon and mineral. Balanced, with crisp acidity. Refreshing.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2019 Charlotte’s Home, Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%, $17, 3.5 stars A sauvignon blanc with bright acid and high-toned citrus notes of grapefruit and lemon. A touch grassy. Just lovely.

Is there an upside to social distancing? Brad Holstine, winemaker of Mendocino County’s Husch Vineyards, said there’s a surprising silver lining in the pandemic.

“As odd as it sounds, I think that being 6 feet apart has brought us closer as a company,” he said. “We’ve learned how to work more tightly as a team. … I used to worry a great deal about, say, the pink hue of a new rosé, the phenolic balance of a pinot noir or the oak extraction on a chardonnay. The last year has taught us that what really matters is how we care for those around us. It’s my hope that this ‘care more, worry less’ ethos will endure well past 2021.”

Holstine is behind our wine of the week winner — the Husch Vineyards, 2020 Mendocino County, Sauvignon Blanc, 13.9%, $16. This sauvignon blanc is as refreshing as the surf. Buoyed by crisp acid, it leads with aromas of lemongrass and on the palate, it has flavors of grapefruit and mineral. It finishes crisp and is impressive from start to finish.

Other tasty sauvignon blancs and fume blancs include: Dry Creek Vineyard, 2020 Sonoma County, Fume Blanc, 13.5%, $16; Grieve, 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $90; Grounded, 2020 California Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%, $15, and Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2019 Charlotte’s Home, Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%, $17.

As for the Husch sauvignon blanc, Holstine said the style he’s shooting for is one that has bold flavors and is a little edgy.

“Our style is balanced and bright, food-friendly and fruit-forward with a little sass,” he said.

Sauvignon blanc, the winemaker said, has a multitude of expressions, so choosing a house style is crucial.

“From laser-sharp lemongrass and citrus to unctuous guava dripping of tropical fruit, sauvignon blanc has many incarnations,” he said. “Our approach is to use canopy management and the ripeness spectrum to pick over a full range of flavors. This allows us to craft a blend that highlights all that sauvignon blanc has to offer. We employ cool, stainless steel fermentation on the reductive side to lock in these desirable aroma compounds.”

Holstine, 52, said he was drawn to the craft of winemaking when he was a student at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering in 1996, but he ultimately opted to be a winemaker, joining Husch Vineyards during the harvest of 2003.

“I love the combination of farmer, scientist and artist,” he said. “I’m curious by nature and enjoy that, as a winemaker at a small family-owned winery, I’m involved with every step of the process from bud break to cork pop.”

Crafting sauvignon blanc, Holstine said, is a pleasure because it’s one of his favorite varietals to uncork at the dinner table.

“I look forward to tasting what other producers are crafting, what exotic aromas and flavors are enticingly waiting for me in the next bottle,” he said. “Sauvignon blanc is never boring. In our style, it’s never muddled with flavors of oak … just pure fruit in the glass.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This week’s blind tasting

Husch Vineyards, 2020 Mendocino County, Sauvignon Blanc, 13.9%, $16, 4 stars. This sauvignon blanc is as refreshing as the surf. Buoyed by crisp acid, it leads with aromas of lemongrass and on the palate, grapefruit and mineral. Finishes crisp. Impressive.

Dry Creek Vineyard, 2020 Sonoma County, Fume Blanc, 13.5%, $16, 4 stars. A complex fume blanc where citrus meets the tropics. Aromas and flavors of grapefruit and mango, with stone fruit of peach and apricot in the mix. Great minerality. Nice length. Striking.

Grieve, 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $90, 4 stars. Pretty stone fruit gives way to melon in this upscale sauvignon blanc. Balanced, with crisp acid, and complex with layered flavors. The Grieve has an incredible range. Gorgeous.

Grounded, 2020 California Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%, $15, 3.5 stars. A creamy sauvignon blanc with notes of peach, lemon and mineral. Balanced, with crisp acidity. Refreshing.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2019 Charlotte’s Home, Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%, $17, 3.5 stars A sauvignon blanc with bright acid and high-toned citrus notes of grapefruit and lemon. A touch grassy. Just lovely.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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