Gainey Santa Inez Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Gainey Vineyards has an interesting setup. It farms two properties in the Santa Ynez Valley
north of Santa Barbara. Gainey's Home Ranch in the east of the valley has on the average
temperatures fifteen degrees warmer during growing season that its Evans Ranch in the Santa
Rita Hills to the west, a scant fifteen miles away as the crow flies.
Gainey hence has an ambitious choice of grapes, and they do well with their Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is a stimulating ride. The nose brought stone, hay and grass with green apple, apricot, and orange for citrus. In the mouth the fruit frolicked into a definite tartness, adding (to the orange) tropical notes: whiffs of pineapple, banana, mango and kiwi. The dry, drinkable wine comes with a touch of fizz.
On the palate, just as the nose's tree fruit and grassiness turned into tropical fruit, the initial
minerality seemed to convert into butter and cheese, notes I happen to really enjoy, especially
as they project a slight dairy bitterness. These notes proved an effective foil for the lasting
acidity which, had they been unalloyed, may have led me to think “vitamin C energy drink.”
While I wanted to feel some more of the initial minerality through to the finish, its lack did
in no way inhibit my quaffing. The wine isn't Sancerre, but why should it try to be? I may
not have been philosophizing after drinking it, but I was smiling.
Verdict: Sustained Fun
Grapes travel around the world. It is stimulating to analyze how a grape expresses itself in a given climate, but ultimately the wine needs to stand along on a zero sum basis.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman