2012 Dragonette "Grassini Vineyard" Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara Sauvignon Blanc

SKU #1139345 92 points Vinous

 Bright yellow. Heady aromas of poached pear, honey, jasmine and iodine, along with a smoky, leesy overtone. Offers pliant orchard and ripe citrus fruit flavors and a touch of sweet butter, complemented by anise and honeysuckle. Smooth and expansive on the clinging finish, showing very good intensity and bright stony cut. Now settled into a spacious facility on the northern outskirts of Buellton, John and Steve Dragonette and Brandon Sparks-Gillis have plenty of room to spread out and work more efficiently and quickly than when they were based in Lompoc, where the barrels were stacked to the roof, according to Sparks-Gillis, who told me that they're trying to "strip away as much artifice as possible" from their wines and are taking a highly flexible approach to fermentation times, stem inclusion and new oak while "trying to make each wine distinct from the others. Otherwise, why not just make single-varietal bottlings and be done with it?" Sparks-Gillis asked rhetorically.  (12/2014)

K&L Notes

These days, when we see Santa Barbara on a label we think Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. But the Happy Canyon AVA, a little warmer than its neighbors thanks to a range of mountains that block the coldest sea breezes, is a place where Bordeaux varietals thrive. Grassini is a high-density, low-yielding (for Sauvignon Blanc) vineyard. The folks at Dragonette purchase the grapes on a per-acre basis, instead of per-ton, and harvest them in multiple passes, by hand. Add aging in 67% neutral French oak barrels and puncheons, 11 months aging on the lees with occasional stirring, and you can see why this is a $34.99 Sauv Blanc--and worth it. The 2011 was scored 92 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Tanzer's International Wine Cellar and Connoisseur's Guide to California Wine.

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Price: $34.99
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Sauvignon Blanc

- One of the best known "international" varieties originally cultivated in France and considered the parent of, with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon. Sauvignon's wonderfully distinctive aromatics generate some of wine's most colorful descriptors, among them "cat pee," herbaceous, grassy, citrusy the world over. In France, the apex of Sauvignon Blanc production is the Loire Valley, in the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, where the terroir expresses itself most beautifully through the grape. Sauvignon Blanc is also the leading white grape varietal in Bordeaux, where it is paired with the fatter, richer Sémillon to varying degrees. Relatively easy to cultivate, though more suited to cool climates, Sauvignon Blanc has made inroads in Europe outside of France, especially in Northeastern Italy's Friuli and Alto Adige, but also on the Slovenian border. These lovely wines are often overshadowed by Sauvignon Blanc's achievements in the New World, namely New Zealand, South Africa and California. New Zealand's Sauvignon Blancs, more conspicuously fruity than most French examples, landed the small island nation on the world wine map in the late-1980s and 1990s. South African Sauvignons are one of the most successful international varieties produced in that country and are often quite elegant and affordable. In California, Robert Mondavi managed to, almost single-handedly, created a market for Sauvignon Blanc by renaming his oak-fermented version Fumé Blanc. While some wineries still use the name, California Sauvignon Blanc has secured its place in the California wine pantheon, particularly those from the Napa Valley. Washington State, Chile and Argentina also have considerable plantings of the grape.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Maria/Santa Barbara

- Santa Maria and Santa Ynez make up the two AVAs of Santa Barbara County, an area known for its natural beauty and temperate climate. The best grape-growing areas, however, are located on the very coastal reaches of these two appellations, and are cooled by ever-present fog and ocean breezes (it is even cooler and foggier here than Carneros!). As expected, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive while the more inland zones lay claim to Bordeaux varietals and some Rhône blends.