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Raise Your Glass: A white wine that spans the seasons

  • Warren Johnston. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



For the Valley News
Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Joel Gott

Sauvignon Blanc, 2018

California, $12.99/$9.99

13.9% alcohol by volume

Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc is a wine for all seasons, unlike other Sauvignon Blancs that lend themselves to only warm weather drinking.

This wine, which is full of ripe stone fruit and citrus flavors and aromas, is made to go with food. Its crisp, refreshing acidity pairs nicely with such year-round fare as grilled meats, seafood, salads and cheeses.

And in the words of this widely available wine’s producer, Joel Gott, his wines are well-made, balanced and sold for such unbelievable prices that someone who buys a bottle feels like they’ve stolen something.

That’s “because the wines taste far pricier than they are,” he said last year in a Forbes magazine article by John Mariani.

Gott is a five-generation “wine guy” who grew up working with grapes in some of California’s best vineyards. That experience instilled in him a nose for quality and a feel for sensory integrity that end up in all his wines, he said in a 2016 interview with The Somm Journal, a California magazine for sommeliers and others in the restaurant and wine business.

Gott produced his first eponymous wine, a Zinfandel, in 1996 with his girlfriend, now wife, Sarah. She has a U.C. Davis degree in fermentation and had winemaking experience at Joseph Phelps and Quintessa Vineyards.

Their debut wine made from Lodi grapes was a hit and got good reviews from wine critic Robert Parker and others. It launched the business that now has more than a dozen labels, wines made from grapes sourced in California, Washington and Oregon.

The inspiration for the first wine and what forms the foundation of their business came in the early 1990s when Joel Gott owned a small grocery market with his younger brother, Duncan Gott.

“That educated me on the wine retail business. It’s that experience that gave me the idea that if you can produce a really great wine under $20, you can do very well in the business,” he said in The Somm article.

The Gotts have done very well in the wine business. Joel and Duncan, who was 47 when he died of a heart attack earlier this year, also founded in 1999, Gott’s Roadside, several Bay Area stands selling high-quality hamburgers, fries, onion rings and milkshakes sourced from the state’s best growers. The stands — there are seven of them now — also sell Joel Gott wines and his favorite craft beers.

In addition to the Joel Gott wines, Gott partnered with Roger Scommegna and Charles Bieler more than a decade ago to start the Three Thieves brand, wines that sell for about $8. The partners buy over-produced fine wines for a “steal” and repackage them. The debut wines were in one-liter jars with screw caps, like wines used to be sold in the 1940s and 1950s. I liked that idea. but alas, customers seeking good wines must have been put off by the jars because the wines now come in regular bottles with fancy labels. The partners also produce lines of wines including The Show, Bandit Wines and Newman’s Own.

Gott believes that terroir is where you find it. He leases nine vineyards in California and the Northwest, and the Gott winemaking team — Gott, Sarah, Alisa Jacobson and Nicole Scommegna — choose the grapes from each vineyard that provide the qualities they want in the wines, Gott told The Somm.

For the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, the team chose Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Napa Valley and the marine-influenced Monterey area for their tropical aromatics and from Sonoma vineyards for concentration and flavor.

The morning coastal fog and afternoon winds affecting the Santa Ynez vineyard near Santa Barbara adds to the wine’s tropical notes and minerality.

To preserve the wine’s fruit flavors, aromas and natural acidity, the winemakers employ a long, cool fermentation process in stainless steel tanks. Once the wine is fermented, they blend the lots, taking care to balance the characteristics of each vineyard in the final product, according to the tasting notes.

The result is a Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of mango, ripe peach, orange peel and a hint of lime and bright fruit flavors, followed by crisp, refreshing acidity and a long clean finish.

Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc, along with the winery’s other wines are top quality wines at bargain prices. In fact, one could call them a steal.

Suggestions of wines in the $10 range are always appreciated. Warren Johnston can be reached at raiseyourglassofwine@gmail.com. For past recommendations, go to raiseyourglassofwine.com.