- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Beringer, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, 2002, $12

Beringer Vineyards has long excelled with chardonnay from the Napa Valley, producing rich, powerful wines brimming with sun-drenched fruit, but sauvignon blanc has been a different story. Beringer’s renditions, like those from many California wineries, tended to taste cumbersome and flabby rather than crisp and fresh. Because they were fashioned like chardonnay, it sometimes seemed as though the winemakers were trying to make one varietal mimic the other.

The 2002 Napa sauvignon from Beringer marks a significant change of direction. Bright and vibrant, it displays genuine varietal character but no excessive green or herbal flavors, and it is by far the finest sauvignon blanc produced by this venerable California winery.

Laurie Hook, the winemaker responsible for it, put only 40 percent of the juice in oak, and she used only old, neutral barrels. The result is a seductively creamy texture that only enhances the wine’s compelling citrus flavors.

Many California producers continue to have an uneasy relationship with sauvignon blanc, and few sauvignon wines from there can compete with top examples.


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