Mayhem Sauvignon Blanc 2022 $21

For the longest time I had two simple pieces of advice for burgeoning winemakers in B.C. Don’t make Malbec or Sauvignon Blanc. It’s not that B.C. can’t produce good examples of both, it’s just that Argentina and New Zealand, respectively, can do it so well for such low prices that it’s a suckers bet to go up against them. I still generally believe that’s the case with Malbec, where you can buy a good bottle of organic Malbec that’s travelled 10,500 km from Mendoza for $16; for $23 you can buy a superlative bottle.

But this bottle makes me rethink my stance on Sauvignon Blanc. At $21, it’s much less expensive than the famed Cloudy Bay ($44), but also significantly cheaper than solid bottles from Greywacke ($38) and Craggy Range ($32). In fact its closest price comp is the ubiquitous Kim Crawford ($23), which I continue to be in awe of year after year as they increase production but maintain quality. But there’s the rub—Kim Crawford makes something in the region of 1,250,000 cases of their wine, Mayhem makes 358. Or put it this way—Kim Crawford sold more than four times as much Sauvignon Blanc just at the 2019 US Open tennis tournament as Mayhem made all year.

Now smaller doesn’t always mean better, but this entry-level SB from Mayhem is the real deal if your palate enjoys NZ SB: there’s the lovely juicy citrus right up front but whereas NZ tends to go in a more tropical vein after that, here we have more a savoury, wild herb note that speaks to the Naramata Bench, where these grapes are grown.

It’s a wonderful achievement really, as it offers a depth and complexity that’s tough to find in any Sauvignon Blanc, let alone one that’s $21. And if you feel you have to spend more, they have an even smaller production (140 cases) Anarchy SB with single vineyard fruit that’s been barrel-fermented for a lovely, creamier mouthfeel—but you’ll have to shell out a whopping $3 more. And you get a super cool bottle.

So consider me convinced. If you can deliver a wine that can toe-to-to with top NZ SBs, is easier on the pocketbook and is handmade from small lots, well that’s a no brainer.