The Thin White Line

pey martin riesling They said it couldn’t be done. Yet it is being done. California is emerging from the excesses of the previous decades (who isn’t) and presenting a leaner, meaner attitude in their wines. By lean and mean I mean acidity and a glorious lack of residual sugar. Perhaps Pilates is good for all types of fat.

Just today I had two crisp, mineraly and very dry white wines from California and they were as good examples of the genre as you’ll find anywhere.

Facing down a half dozen pristine oysters the 2006 Brander Sauvignon Blanc Natural from Santa Ynez was master of its domaine. It was clean and fresh as you could want, yet the Brander was not that simple cat pee punch produced in  New Zealand as on top of that zest was a lovely touch of honeydew melon and ripe pears. Brander Natural is a rare example of a new world sauvignon blanc that can actually challenge Sancerre or Pouilly Fume for both guts and glory.

More difficult to find, but well worth the search is the 2007 Pey- Marin, The Shell Mound, Riesling from chilly Marin County. Here’s a high strung dry riesling that is not a bad copy of Alsace, but an interesting wine in its own right. Like the Brander, on top of all the structure and bite is a deliciously ripe fruitiness that belongs only to California. At only 11.8% alcohol it hits some of those high notes you thought only German riesling could hit.

There used to be a line that could not be crossed in California without wines being branded as thin. Thankfully those days seem to be gone as producers like Pey Marin and Brander produce lean, mean fighting machines such as these.