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Spotlight: Lake County Sauvignon Blanc


Clear Lake, Lake County Vineyards and Mt. Konocti view

Simple economic law teaches us that supply and demand govern pricing, and this is as true for wine as anything else. Once upon a time, a fine Napa Valley Chardonnay sold for as little as $6 and was a bargain compared to a French White Burgundy. At that time, no one really knew about Napa wines and demand was low. Now it takes a fair investment to get one.

So where are the good wine values from the little-known wine regions today? Surprisingly, there's one that's practically a stone's throw away from Napa Valley, just a few miles north and east in the Lake County region. With a winegrowing history going back to 1870 - nearly as oldd as in Napa - somehow this area is just now starting to become known among wine drinkers and not just as a place for wineries to buy blending grapes.

With well-drained volcanic soils and 1400-3000 foot elevation, Lake County offers an excellent environment for high-quality grapegrowing, including both reds (Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon) and whites (Chardonnay). In particular, I've found the most consistent quality, broadest availability and best values from Sauvignon Blanc.

Here are some of our favorites:

2007 Benziger Sauvignon Blanc, Lake & Sonoma Counties ($13)
Biodynamic wine from a great family estate in Sonoma Valley. Ripe melon flavors are counterbalanced by a touch of grassiness.

2008 Dynamic Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County ($7)
Biodynamic wine made exclusively for Trader Joe's by Ceago Winery. 3% semillon adds a bit of extra body and a tiny hint of sweetness.

2007 Mason Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County "Pomelo" ($10)
A masterful producer of Napa Sauvignon Blanc, their Lake County version is named after an Asian citrus fruit - reflecting the delicate, refreshing citrus flavors of the wine.

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