Gary Farrell Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Russian River Valley

Cost: $24-26

What: This is an interesting wine because Gary Farrell Winery has been making great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Russian River Valley for 30 years, but this is the winery’s first Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River.

It was worth the wait. This is a terrific Sauvignon Blanc, full of bright citrus flavors mixed with peach and vanilla. It is a complex wine, with layer after layer of flavor. It has a refreshing, cleansing acidity, making it great as an aperitif or with food. There is a nice spice and floral tone in the aroma.

Gary Farrell Sauvignon Blanc

There’s a richness and fullness to the flavor without being overdone. Each sip reveals another nuance, making this a difficult wine to put down. You want to keep trying another sip to see what the wine reveals.

The wine is sourced from the Ritchie Vineyard, Crinella Vineyard and two blocs from Hopkins. The 40-year-old Ritchie vines provide the citrus characteristics as well as great intensity usually found in old vines. The Hopkins fruit brings classic aromas while the Crinella contributes floral and spicy aromatics.

The wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, and 20% of it spent two weeks in all new French oak. It’s bottled with a screw cap, which is very convenient.

This is a wine for a special evening with friends, or for sipping with your sweetheart on a soft summer night. Serve chilled.

Winery: Gary Farrell’s first vintage was 1982 when he produced 50 cases of Rochioli-Allen Pinot Noir. The wine was a sensation and helped brand the Russian River Valley as a premier Pinot Noir region.

The winery is best known for crafting small-lot wines that capture the balance and elegance of some of the finest vineyards in the region.

Like many other California craft wineries, Gary Farrell was sold and now is part of the Vincraft Group. That company was formed in 2008 by Bill Price, Walt Klenz and Pete Scott, wine industry veterans with more than 70 combined years of experience as investors in and operators of highly regarded wineries.

The partners had worked with a variety of wineries, such as widely-distributed Beringer and Kendall-Jackson and luxury-tier Kosta Browne and Kistler.

Vincraft now owns Kosta Browne and Gary Farrell.

Goes with: We had this with fried shrimp, salad and corn on the cob. It was a smash hit.

Teri and I enjoyed sipping it while we nibbled on cheese, fixed dinner and watched the beautiful sunset on Clarks Hill Lake. We liked it so much we had to force ourselves to save some for dinner. I’m glad we did, because the citrus and fruit flavors were a perfect balance for the shrimp.

One thing that surprised me was how much I liked the wine with our homemade salsa. I’m pretty well convinced that beer is the perfect drink for salsa and chips, but after tasting this Sauvignon Blanc with the salsa I’m going to have to return to the lab for further testing.

I think the wine would be great with summer salads, creamy cheeses and seafood of any kind.

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