Fortress Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

Red Hills, Lake County, CA; “100% Musque clone”; 14.5% ABV
$5 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 21 Apr

Fortress_2010_SauvBlancMusqueWhen I picked this off the shelf, I barely noticed the “100% Musque clone” imprint on the label, but it’s actually the main feature that interested me about this wine.  The Wiki page linked above says, Musqué is a French term applied to certain varieties or clones of grapes used for making wine. The term means both perfumed (“musky”) and Muscat-like, and indicates that the variety or clone is highly aromatic.”  This Sauvignon Blanc shares a lot of characteristics of the usual SB and is also distinctly Muscat-like.

This dry wine has a strong nose of perfumed yellow flowers and melon, with some citrus.  On the palate, there’s a lot more of the same, with the melon being quite musky.  The ripe fruit is balanced by lemony acid, bitterness of  yellow / green grape skin and yellow melon rind, and a supporting minerality.  On the second day, the flavors were much more forward, but I slightly preferred the balance and smoother texture on the first day.  I tend to not like Muscat, finding the perfumed flavors a bit too much, and this wine slightly triggered that dislike.  I’d probably prefer a Sauvignon Blanc with about 10% Musqué clone. However, I’m glad to have tried this wine, finding it very interesting and tasty.


12 thoughts on “Fortress Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

  1. Ronald Piazza

    Well written review, I might also add a hint of apricots and peaches to the nose, delicate and smooth on the palate. A nice wine for lighter faire, tastes eligant and easily meets it “list” price of $15.00. A solid bargain at $5.
    Don’t let the 2010 vintage year scare you, fresh as ever. I have enjoyed many Graves that were 10 years+ in age. This wine is made from the same clone. Lake County is reall coming into its own as a top Sauvigion Blanc wine region. I am going to pick up a case for summer.

    1. Seedboy

      I will say it again. I hold SBs for years. I have some 2002 or 3 Matanzas Creeks I bought at the GO 5 years or more ago and am in no hurry to drink them.

      1. Darrell

        Decades and not necessarily by choice. At an auction in 1982, I was forced to buy 5 cases of a barrel bottling of a 1980 Ch. Montelena SB that had a high proportion of Lake County SB, then new at the time.. Slowly drank over a couple of decades. This bottling made me take note of Lake county SB as the varietal character hung on after all those years.

      2. lim13

        I’m definitely with you, SB. And a number of us have indeed said it over and over…Sauv Blancs (and Semillons) can age exceptionally well. Let’s put this concept to bed of having to drink them young.

        1. seedboy

          But if we do, then wineries won’t be so anxious to blow out their one year past vintage SBs. Then where will we be?

  2. Seedboy

    Stelvin is not screwcap. Stelvin is the metal cage surrounding a glass stopper with a little rubber gasket on it.

  3. Darrell

    BW, is the enclosure cork or Stelvin? I am partial to Lake county SB having aged some of the earliest (1980) from there for quite a long time. I didn’t think a warm county could produce such a wine. If you can remember the aroma, was the “musque” like a muskmelon (cantaloupe and related) or muscatty? I now have a couple of SB’s to try because of recent reviews.

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Darrell. Stelvin closure (screw cap), which I think was a plus. I would say more like a yellow muskmelon, but please let me know what you think if you try a bottle.

      1. Darrell

        BW, I finally got around to trying this bottle and I guess I enjoy hit-you-over-the-head Sauvignon Blanc since this was an understated SB when compared to a bottle of 2007 Maiwea Nelson New Zealand SB picked up at a GO years ago. The Maiwea had a Stelvin enclosure and was as fresh as when I bought it. The Fortress wasn’t as musky as I thought it would be. I liked the wine. I have to say I also enjoy even more understated Sauvignons from the Loire.

    2. Darrell

      Bought 3 different SB’s and my life must be dull as I am resorting to reading back labels and this bottle had a slightly self aggrandizing label concerning vineyard sustainable practices. The funny line lower in the labeling said ” GRASS IS FOR COWS.”

      1. BargainWhine Post author

        Hi Darrell. I was also amused by the conceit shown on the back label of this wine, which led them to compare it to a fine Graves blanc. However, I seem to have missed the “GRASS IS FOR COWS” part, probably because I’ve already seen that phrase on the back of so many white Bordeaux. (not)


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