Wine of the week: Winning reputation of Hanna Sauvignon Blanc

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When it comes to sauvignon blanc, Hanna is aiming for a trifecta of heady aroma, juicy, concentrated flavor, and zingy acidity.

That’s how Chris Hanna puts it, and the president of her namesake brand continues to make good on that bet.

The Hanna, 2013 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc at $19 is our wine-of-the-week winner.

Hanna’s sauvignon blanc is something of a celebrity, given the number of accolades it has racked up over the years.

It won the sweepstakes white in the Sonoma County Harvest Fair Wine Competition three out of five years, in 2000, 2003 and 2004.

“We stopped entering the Harvest Fair for a while,” Hanna explained. “We just didn’t have enough wine to go around. We did enter last year, though.”

What makes this varietal a standout?

“Our winemaker, Jeff Hinchliffe, has been with us since 1998, and we’re both fanatical about sauvignon blanc,” Hanna said.

The sauvignon blanc is produced at Hanna’s Santa Rosa winery. Hanna also has a winery in Alexander Valley, with tasting rooms at both sites.

“Our vineyard on Slusser Road in the Russian River Valley is the primary source for this wine,” she said, “and the fruit is impeccable.”

Hanna said because the sauvignon blanc is tank fermented, it’s entirely dependent on the quality of the fruit in the vineyard.

“We do a lot of hand work in the vineyard to boost the aroma and create concentrated flavor,” she explained.

Concentrated flavor was something Hanna was formally introduced to when she was a teenager.

“I first fell in love with wine when my father and founder (Dr. Elias Hanna) took my sister and me to Bordeaux and Burgundy on a summer trip,” Hanna said. “I was only 14, but the French had no problem letting me taste! We started making home wine as a family when we returned from that trip.”

Hanna’s tasting adventure across the pond made her both a wine enthusiast and a foodie.

The vintner, who has been at the helm since the early 1990s, wrote the book “The Winemaker Cooks.”

Hanna said for both cooking and winemaking, the quality of ingredients is paramount.

“We’re so lucky in Sonoma County to have superior ingredients at our disposal: organic vegetables, artisan cheese, lamb, seafood, etc.,” she said. “We try to emulate that excellence within our own vineyards.

Beyond ingredients, Hanna said both cooking and winemaking also share in the wizardry of the creation.

“As a cook, you create a balance of richness and acidity in a sauce, and you do the same thing to balance a wine,” she said. “The key is to always improve, whether you’re trying to perfect a recipe, or a wine.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or

The Press Democrat

Wine of the Week: Scouting for the tastiest sauvignon blancs.

Wine writer Peg Melnik had a blind tasting this week of sauvignon blancs, with a range of styles from grassy to tropical. Our wine-of-the-week winner is the Hanna, 2013 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc at $19. It’s a great price for the quality.


Hanna, 2013 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 13.2 percent alcohol, $19. ★★★★ This sauvignon blanc has it all -- a range of tasty flavors, bright acid and great balance. Notes of guava, grapefruit and lime, with the right dose of spice. Nice finish. A smart buy.

Other impressive wines

Chalk Hill, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 14.5 percent, $20. ★★★★ A tropical sauvignon blanc with appealing notes of nectarine, lime and melon. Creamy texture. Crisp acid. Lingering finish. The Sauvignon Musque in the mix lends an exotic note.

Rutherford Ranch, 2013 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 12.5 percent, $20. ★★★★This sauvignon blanc is a standout because of its crisp acidity. Notes of grapefruit, lemongrass and papaya show well in this bottling. Balanced. Impressive.

The Hess Collection, 2013 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.5 percent, $22. ★★★ 1⁄2 A bright and lively sauvignon blanc with aromas and flavors of white peach, grapefruit and tangerine. Bright citrus coupled with floral notes is what makes this wine turn heads. It’s a standout for the price. Lovely.

Waterstone, 2013 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14 percent, $18. ★★★★A refreshing sauvignon blanc with notes of tangerine, lemon, herbs and spice. Creamy texture. Bright acid. Striking.

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