Value Alert: 92 WS $12 California Sauvignon Blanc

Friday, April 2, 2021

I was reading a paper copy of Wine Spectator recently and came across an outlier I should have noticed before.

A 92 point Sauvignon Blanc that retails for $12, the 2019 Joel Gott California Sauvignon Blanc:

I had a look at all the California Sauvignon Blancs Wine Spectator has rated for the 2019 and 2020 vintage. There were 118 of them.

The highest scoring wines received 93 points (there were 4 of them). 
The most expensive (Kenzo) is $80.
The most inexpensive (Chateau Souverain) is $10.

And here's Joel Gott at 92 points for $12. It was literally the 2nd most affordable wine they rated. That's pretty amazing.
What This Wine Reminds Me Of

Remember the 2007 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc? It's a consistently beautiful wine in a unique package.

It still stands today as an outlier among California Sauvignon Blancs with a 96 point rating, two full points higher than the next best wines.

There are a couple of things the Joel Gott has in common with the Merry Edwards, in addition to their category:
  • The taster for both wines was MaryAnn Worobiec
  • They both contain the following phrase:
Tasted twice, with consistent notes.
It's as if she's saying. "I couldn't believe it either. So I tasted it again. And yes, it's that good."

A Quick Story About Wine Spectator Blind Tasting

A story I've been meaning to tell that I don't think I've made more than a passing mention of was a visit to Wine Spectator's tasting offices in Napa. This was back in the day, not so long after I started this blog in 2008.

I met with James Laube and, I'm pretty sure MaryAnn Worobiec was there too as tasting coordinator at the time. She gave me a quick tour of how they set up their blind tasting protocols.

It was pretty much exactly as described in this video

Note the interesting bit about inclusion of a "ringer" wine: A wine the reviewer has previously rated before that if they score it significantly differently when retasting it blind they know their palate is off and they redo the flight.

I really do think that Spectator adheres to the blind tasting protocols they describe. One thing that's unclear though is how "clustered" the wines in a given flight are?

For example, does the tasting coordinator say: "Okay, you'll be tasting top end Napa Cabs today." Or is a free for all of wines from $10-$300? I think it would be fun if it were a free for all, but I wouldn't be surprised if wines were grouped together in similar price buckets - but I also wouldn't be surprised if low or high priced wines were worked into the mix just to see if they surprise the taster, one way or the other.

If so, that's what I'm thinking this Joel Gott could be. A wine that got snuck into a more expensive flight and held its own and then some.

13.9% Alcohol

I too tasted the wine twice: Once chilled and once at room temperature.

Tasted fresh out of the house refrigerator and allowed to gradually come up to room temperature, the merits of this wine are definitely obscured. But it does present itself in a round, plush, and voluptuous manner. Poached pears, ripe white flesh peaches, and a hint of fresh cut grass.

Tasted at room temperature it's more compelling and more importantly, devoid of off notes. Aromatically delightful with a surprisngly long finish.

Finishes clean but could use more acidity. Still, a delight to drink. Recommended.

90/100 WWP: Oustanding

Bottom Line

With 90,000 cases produced, it should be easy to find this wine. Give it a whirl and see if it becomes your summer crowd pleasing go-to wine.


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