Periodically, the Wine Curmudgeon will wax nostalgic about great $10 wines that are no more ? the old Big House Red, when Randall Grahm owned it, for example, or the legendary Hogue Fume Blanc, which once got me out of a wine bar fight (a story I ?ll have to share one of these days).
Benziger ?s Fume Blanc, which the winery stopped making four or five years ago, was one of those wines. It was a regular in the $10 Hall of Fame in those dark, pre-recession days, when I wrote that ?wineries, producers, and marketers seem to be spending their money on packaging and advertising instead of what ?s in the bottle ? and I worried that great cheap wine was going to go away.
This, as near as I can tell, is the successor to the fume (which is just another name for wine made with sauvignon blanc), though I haven ?t tasted it in a while. The 2011 ($8, purchased, 13.5%) is a previous vintage, which is why it cost so little; suggested retail is closer to $15, though the 2012 may be available for $10 or $11 in some places. This is classic California-style sauvignon blanc with grassy aromas, but also a very refreshing tropical pop in the middle. Very well done, and a steal at this price.
Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame ? as it should be, if the past is any indication.