In our opinion, Sauvignon Blanc is one of a few varietals with universal appeal. Not only is it made in a number of styles in countries around the world, it’s almost always offered by the glass on wine lists and we’re yet to ever hear anyone say they don’t like it. In fact, it’s one of the only varietals that we’ve found is identifiable by people who know very little about wine.
Our hypothesis for this is availability, familiarity, and accessibility. Because it’s typically available in wine shops and on wine lists, consumers are familiar with it. And because it tends not to be too heavy, funky-nuanced, or expensive, it’s accessible to the palates and wallets of most.
We very much enjoy Sauvignon Blanc ourselves and are always on the lookout for different styles and producers to recommend to our readers and friends. So when we were recently served a glass of the 2013 JUSTIN Sauvignon Blanc as an aperitif at a dinner party, we were happy to discover another lovely producer to add to our repertoire.
WINE: 2013 JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Paso Robles, California
VARIETAL: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
TASTING NOTES: Grapefruit, ripe lemon, lime, green pear, apricot, citrus blossom, lemon thyme, fresh grass, sweet pea, and a touch of jalepeño
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Grilled vegetables, chicken kabobs, garlic shrimp, grape leaves, fish or chicken seasoned with green herbs, pork chops, crab, clams, goat cheese, grilled octopus, and green salads
AVERAGE PRICE: $13
ABOUT THE WINE: JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery is a 160-acre, family-owned and operated winery in the Paso Robles appellation of California’s Central Coast. Founded in 1981 by former investment banker Justin Baldwin, the winery’s primary focus is on producing Bordeaux varietals and blends.
Although JUSTIN is mainly known for its red wines, Sauvignon Blanc originates in Bordeaux, so it was a natural choice to add to the winery’s portfolio. Although it has produced Sauvignon Blanc in its tasting room and for Wine Society members for a number of years, JUSTIN increased production of it in 2012 for national distribution. However, because its own vineyards are planted primarily for Cabernet Sauvignon and red Bordeaux varietals, JUSTIN sources all of its white grapes from external growers with which they have shared long-standing relationships. The winery works closely with these growers to monitor their farming practices and to ensure a shared commitment to quality.
The grapes for this particular wine come from four different vineyard sites, their terroirs ranging from the sandy loam river plains of Eastern Paso Robles to the steep, calcareous hillsides of Western Paso Robles. The grapes from all of these vineyard sites are hand harvested, whole-cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks with no malolactic fermentation or barrel aging. According to winemaker Scott Shirley, “Fermenting our Sauvignon Blanc in stainless steel tanks preserves a bright acidity and the varietal typicity, while retaining expressive aromatics. These characteristics are also attributable both to picking decisions and vineyard sites.”
Scott’s overall approach to winemaking is based on continued study and adaptation. As he explains, “Every vintage brings new challenges and a unique set of growing conditions, there is no recipe for making an extraordinary wine. I am continuously learning from individual vineyard sites and winemaking decisions in order to apply that knowledge the following year.”
The 2013 JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery Sauvignon Blanc is a bright, crisp, easy-drinking wine, and at $13 per bottle, it’s an excellent value. We recommend having this wine as an aperitif or pairing it with first-course salads or fish and white meat entrees prepared with green herbs or citrus.
Scott Shirley joined JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery in 2012 after making wine in Napa Valley for 13 vintages. He first trained his palate on Bordeaux blends at Opus One, where he was the enologist for six years. He then joined the Hess Collection as winemaker for nearly seven years. With a degree in biochemistry, Scott enjoys the artistry of creating a blend that captures the expression of a certain variety during a particular set of growing conditions. There are challenges every year, but he approaches each harvest with the optimism of a painter addressing a blank canvas.
Allison Albanese has worked in the finance industry for the last eight years as Managing Director of Investor Relations for a hedge fund in NYC. She is also the founder of Parched: NYC, a website launching soon that is dedicated to all things cocktail, wine and beverage-related in NY. Allison is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and is currently studying for her Advanced Sommelier certification.
Melissa Diaz has spent over 12 years working in the media industry and is currently the Consumer Insights Director at Parade Media Group. Prior to joining Parade she worked at the New York Times in Advertising Market Research. Melissa is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and is currently studying for her Advanced Sommelier certification.
Have a question for Allie & Mel? Please contact us at [email protected].