Sometimes grandiose words are thrown around a bit too freely. However in the case of David Ramey it's entirely appropriate to mention that he's both a legend and icon of the California Wine Industry. He launched Ramey Wine Cellars and through that label broke a lot of ground in California. Aside from his own label he's acted as a consultant for wineries of all sorts.
His most recent endeavor, Sidebar Cellars, includes the next generation of Rameys. Fruit for their wines is sourced in Russian River Valley, Lake County, and Lodi California. The focus at Sidebar is on Zinfandel, Kerner and a couple of distinct Sauvignon Blancs. The Sauvignon Blancs distinguish themselves in a couple of ways; they're both excellent as well as completely different expressions from distinct sites.
Sidebar Cellars 2016 High Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($22)
All of the fruit came from a vineyard in Lake County sitting above 1,700 feet in elevation. Fermentation took place in stainless steel and neutral oak. Yellow melon and a hint of lemon zest burst from the nose. White fig and bits of gooseberry drive the palate. Additional citrus notes are evident on the finish. There's a level of grace an refinement here that isn't often present at this price. It's a fine example of what can be achieved in Lake County.
Sidebar Cellars 2016 Ritchie Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($34)
This single vineyard wine gets its fruit from a site that David Ramey has been sourcing Chardonnay at for years. The vines have 44 years of age on them. Fermentation took place largely in Concrete Egg (89%) with the balance in neutral oak. Hints of lime and and grapefruit emerge on the nose, which is ever so slightly demure. Flavors of pear and continued citrus notes drive the elegant, layered palate. Droves of minerals dot the impressively long finish. Both the age of the vines and the use of concrete eggs as a fermentation vessel lend to the incredible texture and mouthfeel here.
Each of these Sauvignon Blancs is delicious in its own right. Both also represent great values at their price points. Choose if you have to, drink them both if you can.