TN: Brander - Best Sauvignon Blanc in the USA?

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brigcampbell
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TN: Brander - Best Sauvignon Blanc in the USA?

#1 Post by brigcampbell » February 12th, 2018, 9:53 am

Took my FIL up to Solvang for a few days to exercise, eat, drink, and feed the Ostrich. We met Larry for dinner and I mentioned a great bottle of SB I picked up at the liquor store in Solvang for the room. A 2017 Brander. Funny thing is Larry is the one that told me about this wine a few years ago. To make the world even smaller the winemaker at Brander and Larry's girlfriends are BFF. He offered to ping Fabian for us and set something up for the next day.

Fabian was great. He met us in the tasting room and actually did the tasting himself, super great guy. Then we toured around the winery barrel tasting. Extremely informative.

Fabian told a great story, here's the short version. He was in Alba, Piedmont on his honeymoon eating dinner in a restaurant and the owner was chatting him up and mentioned he was a winemaker. Owner points over to a guy and says that a big importer from the USA right there (Domain something) They make introductions and the importer tells the restaurant owner "This guy makes the best Sauvignon Blanc in the United States". They ended up staying all night and opening lots of bottles together. Awesome.

BTW - I would only put Gamble ahead of Brander for Sauvignon Blanc.
  • 2016 Brander Cabernet Franc - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley (2/12/2018)
    I believe these vines were planted in 1975 and on their own root stock. Rare, I'm sure. Very nice wine with excellent structure. Needs a few more years to integrate. Medium plus toasted oak and dark cherry.
  • 2016 Brander Cabernet Sauvignon Los Olivos Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley (2/12/2018)
    Medium opaque. Spicy plum aroma. Medium acid and fine small tannins. A hint of cherry at the finish. Atypical of classic Cabernet but decent. Interesting 13.5 ABV, how do they do that in Los Olivos? Pick early I guess.
  • 2016 Brander Cuvée Natalie - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley (2/12/2018)
    Citrus aromas with medium plus acidity. Grapefruit and tart lemon rind flavors. Very good and nice value. We purchased a couple.
  • 2016 Brander Sauvignon Blanc au Naturel - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley (2/12/2018)
    This is done in all stainless and is reflected in the level of acidity and grip. Plenty of lemon rind on the attack followed by grapefruit and tropical notes. The finish is very long. This is an excellent wine.
  • 2016 Brander Sauvignon Gris Los Olivos Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley (2/12/2018)
    A bit of honey on the nose. Medium levels of acid and good balance. Light bodied. A gentler version of a Sauvignon Blanc.
  • 2017 Brander Rosé - USA, California, Central Coast, Los Olivos District (2/12/2018)
    I think this was just release the morning we tasted. Light pink color. Cherry core and peach edges. Good mineral/chalk notes. 2/3 Merlot - 1/3 Cabernet Sauvignon. Not your typical rose blending grapes. Just Okay.
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Richard T r i m p i
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TN: Brander - Best Sauvignon Blanc in the USA?

#2 Post by Richard T r i m p i » February 12th, 2018, 10:55 am

That's a blast from the past. Didn't stop at the winery but remember tasting their Sauv Blanc during a trip through the Santa Ynez Valley back in the late-80s. I hear Jim Cowan makes a very nice one...as does Patricia Green Cellars.

RT

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TN: Brander - Best Sauvignon Blanc in the USA?

#3 Post by Anton D » February 12th, 2018, 11:02 am

Wow, that is a great note!

Now I am wondering how to find myself in that area!
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TN: Brander - Best Sauvignon Blanc in the USA?

#4 Post by Todd F r e n c h » February 12th, 2018, 11:05 am

I used to love Brander Sauv Blanc - haven't had it in probably a decade, though!
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TN: Brander - Best Sauvignon Blanc in the USA?

#5 Post by James Cross » February 12th, 2018, 11:14 am

I'm not a big sb guy, but these are good.....had been planning to stop on my next trip and this note clinches it.

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#6 Post by Thomas Keim » February 12th, 2018, 11:44 am

Absolutely - my all time favorite California Sauvignon Blanc -
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#7 Post by larry schaffer » February 12th, 2018, 11:52 am

Brig,

Great seeing you last week, my friend - a treat indeed to see 'the group'!

Glad you enjoyed your time at Brander - as mentioned, Fred has been making some killer SBs for 40 years or so. He not only works with fruit from his own vineyard but some of the best vineyards in SB County - from the Happy Canyon area to Ballard Canyon.

And Fabian is a great winemaker who flies under the radar for sure. He is crafting some great wines - and has been doing so for quite some time.

I will say that there really are some wonderful SBs being produced in our area - Brander, Presquile, Starlane, Jonata, Grassini, Dragonette and a few more. Lots to choose from at all different price points and 'styles'.

Cheers.
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#8 Post by Kris Patten » February 12th, 2018, 8:55 pm

Bevan makes a kick ass SB too.
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TN: Brander - Best Sauvignon Blanc in the USA?

#9 Post by Todd F r e n c h » February 13th, 2018, 8:05 am

Kris Patten wrote:Bevan makes a kick ass SB too.
So does Riverain and Gamble...but at 3X the price of Brander, so I'm guessing a bit of 'value' goes into play with the Brander 'best' categorization
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#10 Post by David Cooper » February 14th, 2018, 10:13 am

The best SB I have ever had was 2012 Bevan Ritchey Vineyard. However Lieu Dit, Bedrock and Rocchioli have come close in recent vintages.

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#11 Post by larry schaffer » February 14th, 2018, 10:30 am

Defining 'best' is always difficult, and I think moreso when it comes to a variety such as Sauvignon Blanc. I say this because different folks look for very different things in the wine:

There are some who hate the 'cat pee' essence so if they get any of that, they hate the wine
There are some who feel that this grape should only be fermented and aged in either Stainless or concrete
There are some who dig the barrel fermented and aged style
There are some who don't mind a touch of RS to bring out the fruit
There are some who believe that only the musque clones bring out what they dig in the variety
There are some who feel that they should not have to spend over $30 to get a great SB

And these are just a few of the ways that one can dissect this variety :-)

Cheers
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TN: Brander - Best Sauvignon Blanc in the USA?

#12 Post by Matthew King » February 14th, 2018, 10:57 am

Merry Edwards flirtysmile
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#13 Post by Joe Webb » February 14th, 2018, 11:35 am

larry schaffer wrote:Defining 'best' is always difficult, and I think moreso when it comes to a variety such as Sauvignon Blanc. I say this because different folks look for very different things in the wine:

There are some who hate the 'cat pee' essence so if they get any of that, they hate the wine
There are some who feel that this grape should only be fermented and aged in either Stainless or concrete
There are some who dig the barrel fermented and aged style
There are some who don't mind a touch of RS to bring out the fruit
There are some who believe that only the musque clones bring out what they dig in the variety
There are some who feel that they should not have to spend over $30 to get a great SB

And these are just a few of the ways that one can dissect this variety :-)

Cheers
All good points Larry, many different styles out there. I prefer them with no RS, and no filtration for that matter IMO if you have to stop malo to keep it crisp your picking to late or growing it in to warm a climate. I also prefer them framed by acidity, with no greenness/cat pee, but you have to charge more for those to do the work in the vineyard to avoid that. I hate concrete but a mix of stainless and neutral oak with out extended lees aging keeps my palate happy.
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TN: Brander - Best Sauvignon Blanc in the USA?

#14 Post by dougwilder » February 14th, 2018, 2:08 pm

Very nice SB from Brander, agreed. I tasted the 2016 La Presa Vineyard, and Au Natural in June on my week of tastings in Los Alamos. Hard to argue with the value proposition.
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#15 Post by Jonathan Sirot » February 14th, 2018, 2:51 pm

Have never tried the Brander but my favorite Sauvignon from Ca is Beckyn but its in a whole different price stratosphere even at release price. I should probably try the Brander as it has so may fans here.

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#16 Post by Ken Zinns » February 14th, 2018, 6:23 pm

larry schaffer wrote:Brig,

Great seeing you last week, my friend - a treat indeed to see 'the group'!

Glad you enjoyed your time at Brander - as mentioned, Fred has been making some killer SBs for 40 years or so. He not only works with fruit from his own vineyard but some of the best vineyards in SB County - from the Happy Canyon area to Ballard Canyon.

And Fabian is a great winemaker who flies under the radar for sure. He is crafting some great wines - and has been doing so for quite some time.

I will say that there really are some wonderful SBs being produced in our area - Brander, Presquile, Starlane, Jonata, Grassini, Dragonette and a few more. Lots to choose from at all different price points and 'styles'.

Cheers.
I agree with you guys that Brander makes several top-notch Sauv. Blancs. And I'd add Buttonwood to your list of notable SBC Sauv. Blancs, Larry.

FWIW, I also had a really nice visit with Fabian at Brander a couple of years ago:
Visit to The Brander Vineyard, January 2016

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#17 Post by Leonard Maran » February 15th, 2018, 11:37 am

I am very fond of Dragonnette Cellars, about the same price point as the Brander.

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#18 Post by Craig G » February 15th, 2018, 12:55 pm

brigcampbell wrote:Took my FIL up to Solvang for a few days to exercise, eat, drink, and feed the Ostrich.
I haven't heard this particular euphemism before, but I like it.
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#19 Post by brigcampbell » February 15th, 2018, 1:46 pm

Craig G wrote:
brigcampbell wrote:Took my FIL up to Solvang for a few days to exercise, eat, drink, and feed the Ostrich.
I haven't heard this particular euphemism before, but I like it.
Ha! There's an ostrich farm in Buellton / Solvang. Fun to visit.

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#20 Post by David Cooper » February 17th, 2018, 10:36 am

Is there a Brander you prefer in this bunch:

http://www.klwines.com/Products/r?d=0&r ... &t=Brander

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#21 Post by Steve Brickley » February 17th, 2018, 9:36 pm

Spottswoode
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#22 Post by David K o l i n » February 17th, 2018, 10:12 pm

Araujo used to be my favorite. It’s been a while, though

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#23 Post by Joe W i n o g r a d » February 17th, 2018, 10:28 pm

Massican for me...will try brander tho

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#24 Post by Drew Goin » February 17th, 2018, 10:55 pm

Thanks for the notes, Brig!!!

I recall that Brander was one of the few great Sauvignon Blanc producers we sold in my retail days.

Others included Frog's Leap, Duckhorn, and...?

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#25 Post by brigcampbell » February 18th, 2018, 8:46 am

David Cooper wrote:Is there a Brander you prefer in this bunch:

http://www.klwines.com/Products/r?d=0&r ... &t=Brander
Just buy the cheapest bottling. That's stainless 100% SB.

The Cuvée is a SB / Semallion blend.

The Sauvignon Gris is good.

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#26 Post by David Cooper » February 18th, 2018, 9:07 am

Thanks Brig.

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#27 Post by Blake Brown » February 18th, 2018, 10:41 am

Nice writeup and appropriate comments about Fabian Brig.

BTW, last night, Fred was honoured as the Vintner of the Year by the Santa Barbara Vintners Assoc. at the 10th annual Santa Barbara Wine Auction benefitting Direct Relief International.
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