I wanted to kick off the blog’s first review with something I knew was going to be a sure winner. And in true Last Crusade-esque fashion, I have chosen…wisely (10 points to Hufflepuff if you heard the old knight’s voice in your head as you read that). It also happens to share its name with the name of this blog. Coincidence? I think not! I cooked a salmon filet and some asparagus to go along with this bottle because I don’t mess around, folks.
When I first opened this it was right out of the fridge, which isn’t a great idea if you are a total wine snob. The Book of Snobbery says to serve light, dry white wines between 40 and 50 degrees Farenheit. My fridge is somewhere around 36, I think. Given that I have no self-control, I had to taste right away. Despite the cold, which sometimes shuts down a lot of the sparklin’ top notes that a sauv blanc can have, I got a huge hit of melon and tart pear flavor right off the bat, both in aroma and flavor. I was pretty surprised that this had some complex sweet notes to it also because from my drunken recollection, when I bought this in the tasting room I characterized it as being a severely acidic wine. Which is what a want from a white like this. That is not to say that it didn’t have a sharp, acidic flavor but I was pleased to find it so balanced. As it warmed to the proper temperature, the fruit flavors opened with green apple batting cleanup. Deep in the bottom of the aroma of this juice, under all the fruity and grassy smells you can sometimes just catch a whiff of a little banana and some kind of warm spice. Drawing from my Belgian beer knowledge, I am guessing that this smell came from the yeast. Perhaps because it is such a young wine this hasn’t quite mellowed out of the profile yet. That said, I don’t think I would push this wine too far into the aging process. California wines, in general, are meant for drinking right away. However, some wineries here are breaking that mold and holding to an old world style of production that calls for a little aging. Margerum isn’t, to my knowledge, recommending insane amounts of aging for its wines and certainly not for its whites. This bottle could have benefited from 6 more months before opening but sometimes it can be hard to tell for whites. At least for me.
Wine Spectator gave the 2010 vintage of this bottle a score of 91 and put it on their list of top 100 wines of 2011(#82). I asked about this review when I was at the tasting room and while they were very appreciative of the high score from a normally very strict source, they were surprised. Generally, what makes a wine score highly is that it stands out in some characteristic that sets it apart from others of that same varietal. From what I was told, Margerum’s whole approach to winemaking is to produce a balanced and approachable wine that is consistent and enjoyable, thus their surprise in getting a stand out score.
I have to agree with Wine Spectator on this one. Not that my opinion matters to the wine world but seeing that you are reading my blog, I hope that you care. It’s wines like this that made me fall in love with white wine after being a strict red drinker for several years. White wine can be just as intense and complex as a red but in a totally different fashion. I recognize that it is a crappy analogy but I have told people several times, “If you have ever had a salad that you thought was delicious, you could probably enjoy white wine.” Just the same way a great salad can have a tart dressing with some sweet citrus fruit on it and some nuts or cheese for texture and balance, a well crafted white wine can have acidic notes balanced perfectly by fruit sweetness and some mineral or buttery flavors to carry you from one sip to the next.
You can pick up a bottle or 20 of this stuff either at their tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara (which I strongly recommend visiting) or online via Margerum’s website: margerumwinecompany.com. They also offer the “D” Sauvignon Blanc, which is essentially the reserve version of the Sybarite and is also yummy. Pro tip: wine.com also carries the Sybarite for $1.01 less than Margerum. Normally I am a huge advocate of ordering direct from the business but if you are going to order more than a couple bottles, you can probably find a coupon code for free shipping from wine.com.