The story: I was looking back over my wine reviews from the last year or so and realized something. Very few of the wines that show an amazing quality to price ratio, essentially a very good value for what comes in the bottle, come from California. Almost every other major wine producing region has shown up to the game with $10 wine that are really pleasing, but most $10 California wines are less than spectacular (generalizations, speaking in broad swaths that overall make my point people). I would love to hear why people think this is. Is the real estate to grow the grapes just too high? Is there a leftover inflatted sense of what one used to be able to charge when times were good that people are resistant to retract from? Or am I just not looking hard enough?
Now when you get to the $20 and up mark I can name a whole number of wines that I think bring fireworks to the table. So it is not something against California wine in and of itself. I just would always recommend Spain, Italy, France, Argentina, and maybe South Africa first if people ask for where to look for value. To my point:
The wine: The Franciscan Estate 2009 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is a pale straw color in the glass. It has a particularly dull nose with whafts of pear and lime, and a bit of sweet pineapple when at room temperature and given a generous swirl. The palette is really one note of a somewhat non-descript lime-like citrus both on the front and back end. There really is nothing going on in the middle. The wine is light to medium bodied, has a rather lackluster acidity and structure, and is ultimately incredibly boring to drink.
The verdict: No California, no. This wine has a suggested retail price of $17 which means you can find it for closer to $14. But you shouldn't. Skip the Napa sauvignon blanc if you are looking for a daily drinker and head straight to the Loire, or South Africa. If you want to go up a level to $20 plus sauvignon blancs then yes look back to Northern California. There are certainly some good ones, but overall I think California struggles to provide great values in wine.
This wine was provided as a sample with intent to review.