Bordeaux meets California at Brander Vineyard
From the wine making style to the appearance of the Chateau, Brander Vineyard truly brings Bordeaux to California. Founder and owner Fred Brander and Winemaker Fabian Bravo form the team that crafts beautiful wines that express the best of the old world along with the juicy exuberance of the newly recognized Los Olivos AVA.
Brander first came to my attention as a value wine producer 20 years ago when their estate bottled Sauvignon Blanc rose to national prominence as a high quality, reasonably priced wine. At a time when it seemed like California producers were competing to see who could add the most oak and “butter”, Brander remained steadfast in making wines that showed varietal fruit characteristics and terroir. That’s the way they do it in France and that is probably why Fred Brander is often referred to as the “King of Sauvignon Blanc” in California.
The other day as I was on my way through the Santa Ynez Valley, I decided to stop in to taste at Brander. Walking up to the Chateau I was transported to Bordeaux. Their wines, both red and white are truly inspired by that legendary region. I decided to concentrate on the whites, (mostly Sauvignon Blancs), because that is what I first fell in love with. By the way, it was a 90 degree November day and I had the dogs in the car with me. No problem, they were welcomed in with open arms.
The tasting room is large and can accommodate lots of people, (and dogs) and the staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable. Jaisey poured for me and her enthusiasm was infectious. She really loved what she was doing and told me all sorts of interesting things about the Brander family, the vineyard, the region and the wines.
Here’s a rundown of some of the whites that I tasted with winemaker’s tasting notes:
2015 Sauvignon Blanc Los Olivos District – $16
Rich, plush, and brimming with an almost tropical exuberance, this wine leads with a nose of lychee nut, honeydew melon, hibiscus blossom and wet stone, while flavors of lemon meringue pie, orange zest, white nectarine, and guava round out the deliciously ripe palate.
2015 Sauvignon Blanc Mesa Verde Vineyard – $22
Raised entirely in stainless steel to preserve its crisp, precise character. A beguiling pale straw color in the glass serves as entrée to complex aromas of white peach, green apples, tree-ripened passion fruit and marzipan. The deliciously textured palate shows hints of quince and lemongrass. Pair this with raw oysters or Thai green chicken curry.
2015 au Naturel Estate Sauvignon Blanc – $32
Sourced from the very first Sauvignon Vines planted in the Santa Ynez valley, the au Naturel offers the gorgeous mouthfeel, compelling minerality, rich and balanced flavors, and long-term ageability this cuvee is renowned for. With notes of honeysuckle, Meyer lemon, and cantaloupe on the palate, this extraordinary wine (100% Sauvignon Blanc and produced 100% in stainless steel with 24 hours of skin contact for additional depth) finishes with grapefruit and hints of peach.
Brander makes a large selection of terrific wines, both red and white that offer great value. But what is extra special is that feeling that you are visiting Bordeaux while you’re 2 hours away from Los Angeles.