The Taltarni Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Victoria, is one of those wines that inspires you to ask, “How can they make the wine, ship to our shores from Australia, and still sell it for a bargain price?”

Interestingly, the composition of the wine is 86 percent sauvignon blanc grapes from Victoria, specifically from the cool Pyrenees area, and 14 percent sauvignon blanc grapes from Tasmania. Both sources are named on the label. Is there another wine in the world that uses grapes from mainland vineyards with additional grapes from an off-shore island? I mean legally.

Anyway, the Taltarni Sauvignon Blanc 2008 bursts with notes of ginger, grapefruit and lime with touches of mango and hints of jasmine and honeysuckle. Try to resist that bouquet! In the mouth, brambly and leafy gooseberry and spiced pear come up, couched in a texture that’s almost talc-like in softness yet electrified by snappy acid and bolstered by heaps of chalky limestone. The wine is, in other words, very dry, very crisp, lively and vibrant, and its loads of personality put to shame many sauvignon blancs at twice the price. Drink through 2009 and into 2010. Very Good+ and Great Value at about $13.

As you can see from the bottle image above, Taltarni now has a pared-down, contemporary and, as far as I’m concerned, bland label that does not distinguish it from a hundred other labels from, mainly, Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Do these people all use the same design firm? Meanwhile, Taltarni’s original label image, reproduced here, languishes as a tiny logo on the back label. This reveals character and individuality. (That’s Saint Peter, by the way.) Too often, I think, producers attempt to “sleek up” their package at the expense of originality and authenticity, but this is a subject for a different post.

Imported by Clos du Val Wine Co., Napa, Cal. (Taltarni is a sister winery to Clos du Val.)