09 J. Christopher, Oregon Croft Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
The thing is, you have to listen to women. I'm learning that either the older I get, or the more sauvignon blanc I drink. The science says they have better nostrils, or tastebuds. The line is they're more likely to be "supertasters," sensitive to the nuances of bitter, sour, sweet, and salty. Then again, about a fourth of us are supertasters. And, odds are, this is the first time you've read the word "supertaster." Because it's not at all about the pointillist stroke of genes on your palate. You taste as well as you taste, and unless you waste time kooked up in white rooms with a separate glass and plate for every item of food and drink in your house, you don't know any different. And yet, it's true. Women do taste better. At least in this case, where my fiancee unwittingly picked up my glass and exclaimed, "Huia!" the wonderfully bright, minerally, and classic sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. I told her she was right. That this 2009 J. Christopher sauvignon blanc, from what I consider to be one of the best sites for this grape north of the equator, is indeed Huia. For me to understand what that means, I had to listen. Huia, for us (she and I specifically, not the royal blogger "us"), means much more than it would to others. It's the first wine we really got into together, she waiting outside the store while I hurried in, chatted up one of the associates, and came out with that bottle. I don't remember where we were hurrying to, or why she waited outside. But I remember that pungent, gooseberry-laden white that we've only had one other time since. So hearing her access that name from the deep recesses of her mind, I learned exactly why my married friends always say what they say. It's not about avoiding fights, picking your battles, or "trying to make things work." It's--odds are--that she's seen this somewhere before, already knows the answer. She's quiet, and when she talks, she's about to slap you silly. That's what it means to be a supertaster. Because, honestly, the new Croft is actually quite a different wine than Huia. But what it evokes--this sense of excitement, and maybe a little wonder, the sense of anticipation you get standing next to a hot girl who's still with you, the not knowing and not caring--that's what this wine tastes like. That's what makes it fit, like a memory you'll never know was real or cobbled together from a story your dad used to read you and a decade's worth of dreams. Jay thinks this is his best sauvignon blanc yet. I'm not so sure I agree, but I do think it's his most complex, driven by sharp aromatics, that unique feline pungency, pink grapefruit, pickled ginger, cantaloupe rind, bitter quinine, and a base of dry, eraser-dust minerality. The wine begs for food to smooth out some edges, though I do think that will mellow over the next few months. I remember first trying these wines years ago. Fruity and dull--the sort of recommendation you'd find in the back of some "learn to taste!" book or on the list of a nouveau Thai fusion joint beside the lemongrass pumpkin oysters. As the years have gone on, his wines too have started to come out a little more austere, maturing at pace with the increasing respect this grape has earned. Collectively, they're the only empirical study of what sauvignon blanc can do in the United States--UC Davis be damned. As if someone's been talking to him all these years. As if he's been listening.