Oyster Bay 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, $8.99
Available at Safeway
It was one of those impromptu BBQ’s that required antipasto while the hamburger thawed. A trip to the olive bar at Safeway with a 4 year old dressed as Optimus Prime (BTW I’m Optimus Momma) coerced by the promise of aisles of Halloween candy fondling was in order.
As I was buying my cheap wine selections for the evening and rounding the deli counter to get to the olive bar, an ice bucket with bottles of wine and a kindly man pouring samples left me gobsmacked – what? We can sample wine in CA? Really in a grocery store? Well it’s about time. I was sipping whiskey and scotch at Syrdyk’s in Minneapolis, MN years ago and although it was for the sake of survival from the cold, it was also a smart sales tactic. I would never buy a $60-$120 bottle of liquor without a taste, even with a decent recommendation from a so so friend and I sure as hell wouldn’t leisurely stroll a liquor store (white lie) devoid of purpose only urging me to make that compulsive purchase. This was legislative progress in the Golden State.
Jay, an approachable brand ambassador, welcomed me as I nearly ran him over with my cart due to the speed and velocity of my approach. He was sampling Oyster Bay 2012 Sauvingnon Blanc. He provided the full tasting experience. While sharing the history of the wine, the tasting notes, the story of the company and how the climate of NZ is perfectly suited for Sauvignon Blanc I eagerly sipped about 8 thimblefuls of this delightful vintage.
Oyster Bay takes it’s name from Oyster Bay in Marlborough on the tip of NZ South Island. It is located in the Wairau Valley, truly one of the most recognizable wine growing regions in NZ and the world. The vineyards are perfectly suited to produce Sauv as they are in the cool Maritime coastal regions that have moderately fertile alluvial (loose sediment and silt) soil created from thousands of years of glacial activity. There is also a coastal minerality to the wines due to the naturally occurring sea life and oyster beds.
The nose was not aromatic, but the first sip was crisp, lemony and the acid had a pleasant “cut” that did not sour in the finish – which is so gross – I hate that! But this was well balanced, had a pleasant mouth feel and fresh, flavorful burst with a lovely mineral finish. I also found it surprisingly un-grassy, not like most NZ Sauvs which are well known for this characteristic. Jay explained that was a differentiating factor of this wine. I felt adequately samplified to rate this wine as guest-worthy, and I bought a bottle to serve to my guests to prove it! They were equally impressed with the price, one guest took a picture of the label on her way to the store. You can’t underestimate the power of cheap wine, it is very moving.
Due to the patience of a four year old rumbling like a tectonic plate, I needed to move along to the next aisle. I explained to Jay that matricide via imaginary lasers and a humiliating tantrum was inevitable if my cart didn’t shove off to the “aisle of candy” soon. Optimus was very, very accommodating so it was time to hold up my end of the bargain. Oh, almost forgot to mention, this wine pairs well with candy corn.