Despite all the Chilean wines and all the Sauvignon Blancs that I have tasted over the years, both my memory and my web site's search box tell me that I have never reviewed a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Rather surprising. The 120 on the bottle stands for the 120 men hiding in Santa Rita's extensive wine cellar alongside the national hero Bernardo O'Higgins after the historic 1814 Battle of Rancagua when Chile was reconquered by Spain. The winery now owns more than 3000 hectares (over 7500 acres) of vines and is partnered with the French winery Lafite-Rothschild. The companion wine is a Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at twice the price.
Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc D, O, Valle Centrale 2012 13.5 % alcohol about $8.
Let's start by quoting the marketing materials "Tasting Note Appearance; pale straw. Nose; gooseberry, peach, citrus, fresh cut grass. Palate; light and refreshing with balanced acidity. Serving Suggestion Salads, herb chicken, as a sipper." And now for my review.
At the first sips this wine was thin, excessively acidic, and fairly short. Matzo ball soup smoothed the acidity somewhat. The drink sweetened and I got citrus. I spiced up the soup with Yemeni green jalapeno sauce that rounded the liquid and the fruit continued. The initial meal focused on a barbecued chicken. The libation responded with metallic pea pods and good acidity. Zesty guacamole rendered our SB slightly woody. Fresh raspberries for dessert fairly muted Whitey; and I noted some unpleasant pea pods and pleasant oak.
The second meal started with Japanese rice crackers that brought out the acid and lime in my glass. The centerpiece was an omelet with black pepper, garlic powder, and red (cayenne) pepper. In response our Chilean friend was round but somewhat thin. The commercial Turkish salad composed of onions, tomato paste, and red pepper lengthened the wine and once again brought out the oak. As expected, fresh strawberries muted the libation but I did get some charcoal.
The final meal began with chicken wings in soya sauce. The liquid's acidity dealt well with the dish's grease and its lime tasted pleasant. Things worked out much the same with the beef egg rolls but the wine was oily, even though the eggs rolls were not. More of the same and smoke when the juice was paired with Chicken fried rice. The smokiness intensified and was accompanied by pleasant sweetness at the conjunction of the fermented grape juice and fried beef strips with veggies. The final component of this (pseudo) Chinese meal was sweet and sour chicken. And winey's acidity ended up sour and not sweet.
Final verdict. I remember my previous bargain wine was border line at $7.50. Since I had to pay $11 for today's offering the border was beyond reach.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but would rather just drink fine Italian, French, or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He teaches at an Ontario French-language community college. Among his many web sites he is particularly proud of his Italian travel site with a special focus on regional food and wine at www.travelitalytravel.com. Check out his global wine website at www.theworldwidewine.com with his weekly column reviewing $10 wines and many other sections.