Les Hauts de Bel Air Sauvignon Blanc

This refreshing 100% Sauvignon Blanc is so beautiful — clean, crisp grapefruit and citrus flavors, with a ton of minerality on the finish.  Les Hauts de Bel Air Sauvignon is a bargain for a Bordeaux white — under $20 at Whole Foods Market.


Perfect for a summer evening, paired with sushi, chicken or fish. 

Or just as a sipper. 

For more great value wines, check out Whole Foods Market’s Top 10 Summer Wines, all under $20.


Dry Creek Valley Wines

When I think Dry Creek Valley, I think Zin.  And I’m not a big Zin fan, but when invited to a tasting of Dry Creek Valley wines, I wanted to go and see what they had to offer — largely because Sonoma Valley reminds me so much of the Texas Hill Country in its beautify, low-key atmosphere, and diversity of wines.

I must admit I was pretty surprised because my favorite wines were two Sauvignon Blancs and a Rose of Zinfandel. 

The Fritz Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc had great grapefruit, orange, white peach notes with this terrific flint minerality.  Plus it’s pretty cool that Fritz has a two-story underground winery!

The Dutcher Crossing Sauvignon Blanc had this great floral nose and finish that surprised me until I found out the wine has a bit of Viognier in it.

The Pedroncelli Rose of Zinfandel is from a 4th-generation family that has been making wine since 1954.  This strawberry, raspberry number also reminded me (in a good way!) of the cherry cola Slurpees I enjoyed as a kid.  It wasn’t sweet, but had some interesting cola notes.

The rest of the line up included a Dasche Cellar Les Enfants Terribles Grenache, Estate 1856 Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Vineyard ‘The Mariner’ Meritage (Bordeaux blend), Ridge Lytton Springs (blend of Zin, Grenache and Carignan), and a Perrari-Carano Zin from 20-year-old vines.

The main things to know about Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma is that this region produces a wide variety of wines, not just Zin, with different styles by the different wineries.  Many are dedicated to making their wines sustainably and organically when they can. 

If you want more information, check out Wines of Dry Creek Valley.


What Have I Been Drinking Lately?

Here’s a look at some wines (and spirits) I have enjoyed recently. Cheers!

Franz Etz Gruner

This is my Friday night (or any other weekday) wine.  Love the acid, minerality, and slight effervescence on this little number. IAnd it comes in a liter bottle — great value! Specs.

Simonnet-Febrvre Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc

This is my go-to pairing with sushi when I saddle up to the bar at Whole Foods Market.  Lots of citrus and minerality in this wine (without the heavy grapefruit and grassy notes of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that I don’t care for.)  Whole Foods Market.

Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis

Les Vignes D’Alexander Chateauneuf-du-Pape

This Chablis is my Saturday night, let’s-have-a-party white.  You’ll spend a bit more but it’s worth every sip.  Lemon, herbs and salinity on this number - my kind of wine to set the stage for a lovely evening.  Whole Foods Market.

The Chateauneuf-du-Pape, also from Whole Foods Market, has tobacco, earthy notes with soft tannins.  Super nice.

And last, but not least, a little Red Handed Bourbon Whiskey, made from the fine folks at Treaty Oaks Distillery.  This corn and rye whiskey has a nice touch of sweetness that I like.  Check out my friend Matt McGinnis’ story on whiskeys in Austin Man magazine, which includes a review of Red Handed.

(I needed some whiskey after getting an ART treatment by Jake!)

Danielle de L’Ansee

Really loving this Sauvignon Blanc from the Touraine AOC in the Loire Valley of France. With my wine study, I try and taste varietal wines from different parts of the world to see and taste the differences.

Wow…what a really pretty wine.  Nice lemon citrus notes with a hint of apricot and green grass. Love the lush mouthfeel combined with zippy acidity.  I prefer this style Sauvignon Blanc over the more grassy, tart New Zealand styles.


It’s Still Sauvignon Blanc Time

Breaking all-time summer heat records is getting old.  But I am surviving with some great crisp, dry and refreshing white wines. Tonight, I tried, for the first time, the 2010 Lucky 7 Sauvignon Blanc from Maule Valley in Chile.  Unlike last week’s New Zealand number, this one does not hit you upside the head with grassy, herbaceous notes. 

You get LOTS of lemon and lime citrus on the nose and palate, with a touch of tropical,  honeysuckle flavors. It’s smooth, creamy and a bargain at less than $15.  This is my lucky night (you know that was coming….).

Nine Walks Sauvignon Blanc

The good folks from Nine Walks Wines from Marlborough, New Zealand recently sent me a bottle of 2010 Sauvignon Blanc to taste. Being a white wine girl, I was delighted to check out this wine.

It’s very much a New Zealand-style Sauvignon Blanc, with lots of citrus, some green apple and grassy notes, but it surprised me with a pleasantly sweet touch on the tip of my tongue and a rounder mouthfeel than I expected, yet it finished dry and crisp.

For $11, a great value wine.  I’m not a huge fan of the big green, grassy notes on a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but I would keep this wine handy for my friends who can’t get enough of it. It’s perfect for summer and Lord knows, I don’t see summer ending anytime soon here in Austin, Texas.

Washington Goes Texan

I love it when out-of-towners go Texan and buy boots or a cowboy hat.  Now, that’s the spirit.

At the kick-off reception for TEXSOM, I met the owner of Mercer Estates, Rob Mercer, who had just purchased a new pair of cowboy boots when he landed in the Lone Star State.  Mercer Estates is a family-owned Washington State winery making outstanding wines.  I enjoyed both their Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (both under $20).  In fact, I tasted so many great Washington State wines during TEXSOM that I think it’s time to plan a visit.

Below is Rob (in the cowboy hat) and his buddy Ron Harle with Renaissance Wine Marketing.

Other wines I enjoyed at the Pappas BBQ reception include these two Chardonnays from Australia’s Yering Station (Yarra Valley).  Both had notes of citrus, with nice minerality and a crisp finish. I really dug these wines.

My wine evening in jeopardy due to @DavidGarza1

I can hardly lift my arms tonight thanks to @DavidGarza1 who kicked my a$$ tonight during Total Conditioning at Lifetime Fitness. But I have managed to take a few sips of Cameron Hughes Lot 217 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Classic citrus fruit with a nice softness that makes this wine feel so good in the mouth as it finishes dry.  The best part of this wine — under $15.