In the search for an affordable and crisp California white, I ventured to my local wine shop and quickly zeroed on a 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from winemaking entrepreneur Joel Gott—because I knew the name and liked the $13 price. This value-oriented vintner, based in Napa Valley, is one of the partners behind the Three Thieves and Bandit labels of high-quality jug and boxed wines, and his family owns the popular Taylor's Refresher burger joints in Napa Valley and San Francisco.
My experience with Sauvignons from my home state has been a hit-and-miss affair, though the quality trend seems to be on the upswing. Too many wines from the 1980s and '90s tasted cloying and heavy, either due to bad winemaking or poor-quality grapes. Recently, however, grapegrowers have been delivering cleaner and fresher-tasting fruit—the product of improved viticultural techniques that have helped this mostly cool-climate variety adapt to the hot summers of California's interior valleys.
For his 2007 wine, Gott mixed grapes from cool-climate regions such as Monterey County and the Russian River Valley with fruit from the warmer climates of Napa and Lake counties. Fermentation was done in stainless steel, and the bottle is topped with an easy-to-use screw cap. The result is a wine of crisp acidity, with green apple and citrus flavors backed by some tropical fruit notes. Fresh and satisfying, it was 87 points, non-blind, for me. I'll be interested to see if the quality continues with the 2008 version, which Gott has just released.