Saxon Brown Semillon Fighting Brothers Cuvee 2009

saxon-brown-semillonAh, springtime. Moody, moody springtime.

After a full day of yard chores in semi-hot weather, my idea of liquid refreshment is a tall pour of fresh and cool. In wine terms, it’s a time when my eyes are peeled for bottles of low alcohol, fruit-leaning whites – ideally with taut acidity to rejuvenate my work-slackened senses.

The wine I’m here to talk about, the Saxon Brown Semillon Fighting Brothers Cuvée, doesn’t fully fit the bill. Regardless, this Chairman’s Selection is a well-priced winner (at $16.99) with a bold array of benefits. It’s delicious but it’s not light on its feet.

Fighting Brothers is the vinous offspring of veteran vintner Jeff Gaffner, he of the impressive Sonoma resumé that includes a stretch at Chateau St. Jean. From the top, its nose conjures a bowl of fresh-cut pears and what I can best describe as sea air. The large sugar crystals clinging to the cork signal the nectar-y rush to follow as the viscous, pale yellow liquid coats the mouth. The palate immersion is tempered by spicy herb and creamy qualities on the mid palate and a long, acid-tinged finish.

The regal flavors of Semillon could prove too fleshy or ponderous for springtime taste buds if it weren’t for creative blending. As with many bottlings of the variety, it’s probable that a modest share of Sauvignon Blanc was added to boost acidity and focus.

The dirty little secret of many California wines – even whites – is the elevated alcohol content. In this case it’s a not-insignificant 13.5%, and there is a touch of burn with each sip. Which is why it’s a wine to savor slowly, whether in the warm open air or on a rainy May evening alongside roasted chicken and veggies. While you’re at it, you might tuck a bottle or two away for Thanksgiving turkey. Whatever your tact, take in that nose. It’s a seducer and probably its marquee feature – a beacon to the rich, practically pungent fruit in store. 88-90

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