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Sauvignon Blanc

David Ramey's Sidebar Cellars is Crushing it With Distinct Sauvignon Blanc

David Ramey's Sidebar Cellars is Crushing it With Distinct Sauvignon Blanc

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.

Villa Maria Winery Exemplifies the Diversity of New Zealand

Villa Maria Winery Exemplifies the Diversity of New Zealand

One of the key factors that distinguish New Zealand as a major player in the wine world is diversity. If you travel through the numerous regions, as I did earlier this year, you’ll find myriad examples of unique soil types, elevations, and climactic conditions. Thus each of these regions helps a different collection of grapes thrive. And in the cases where there is overlap in grape types the distinct conditions still lead to diverse results. Villa Maria is a microcosm of that; by growing and sourcing fruit throughout New Zealand, their portfolio showcases the assortment of grapes and wine styles that New Zealand is absolutely nailing, often at bargain prices too. I recently participated in a virtual tasting with Villa Maria and Snooth; here are my thoughts on the handful of wines we sampled.

Villa Maria 2016 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc ($13)       

Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand’s most famous export, and for good reason, several regions are perfect for growing it. This offering from Villa Maria is a classic example of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It has a big nose, good fruit, racy acid, and lots of mineral notes on the finish. At the price it’s a steal of a deal.

Villa Maria 2016 Private Bin Bay Rosé ($14)    

The Villa Maria Rosé has a darker hue than average. It’s filled with cheery red fruit, bits of orange rind, white pepper and hints of vanilla. This Rosé is juicy, tasty and it’ll pair with an astounding array of foods.  In short it’s an excellent warm weather wine.              

Villa Maria 2016 Private Bin Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc ($15)           

The Villa Maria Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc is light, refreshing and a perfect summer welcome wine. It’s a wine you don’t have to think much about, yet it has reasonable depth. For the price you could even use it as a cocktail or Sangria base. This is a fun and tasty wine that will make crowds of people happy.

Villa Maria 2014 Cellar Selection Merlot-Cabernet ($20)

This cohesive blend is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Each variety (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec) come together to form a well woven wine. Red berry fruit and bits of thyme are evident on the nose. Black raspberry and cherry dominate the palate along with spice notes. The long finish shows off dried blackberry and bits of chicory.

Villa Maria 2015 Cellar Selection Pinot Noir ($26)  

Pinot Noir is Mew Zealand’s second most famous export. While it grows in other regions, the two most famous are Central Otago and Marlborough.  Cellar Selection Pinot has a proportionate richness with black cherry, plum and tons of spice.          

Villa Maria 2015 Taylor’s Pass Chardonnay ($45) 

This Chardonnay is a real knockout from the first whiff to the last sip. Apricot, peach, and golden delicious apple aromas burst from the nose. Green apple, roasted nuts and a drove of minerals are evident on the palate. The long finish shows off crème fraiche and bits of toasty oak. This Chardonnay will benefit from a couple of years of bottle age.                 

Dry Creek Valley’s Pedroncelli Winery Nears a Milestone

Dry Creek Valley’s Pedroncelli Winery Nears a Milestone

This coming July Pedroncelli Winery, one of Dry Creek Valley’s most storied and dependable producers will turn 90 years old. In honor of reaching that significant marker the Pedroncelli family is celebrating all year

A Visit to Kelly Fleming Wines in Napa Valley

A Visit to Kelly Fleming Wines in Napa Valley

I’m always determined to find producers I’ve never visited. In fact I strive to spend the bulk of my time in wine regions experiencing new things and places. I have my favorites and I circle back when time permits, but I realize the next spot I hit for the first time might be my new favorite. So it was with that philosophy in mind that I set about to visit to Kelly Fleming Wines, a producer I knew by name but not much else.

Kelly Fleming Wines sits on 300 gorgeous acres in Calistoga. Of those a mere 12 acres are under vine. They farm those acres sustainably; just this year they were awarded Napa County’s Fish Friendly Farming certification. Among the animals and such on the property are beehives, turkeys, mountain lions and four rescue donkeys. When the property was purchased it was unimproved land and they have done everything in their power to be shepherds of this property, improving it with a very light footprint.

While at their Estate property I toured the grounds and tasted through the current releases with Kelly Fleming herself. Apparent after spending the first minute with her is the unbridled passion she has for the property, for remaining a small boutique producer (2,700 cases currently), and for making excellent wine from her Estate and beyond. My thoughts on the wines follow

Kelly Fleming Wines 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($36)

The fruit for this wine came from three Napa Valley vineyards. Fermentation and aging took place in a combination of new French oak (10%), used French oak (30%), and stainless steel (60%). Grass and citrus aromas emerge from the nose. The palate is filled with apricot and peach flavors. Minerals, bits of papaya and orange peel are all in play on the long finish that has a bit or a creamy edge.

Kelly Fleming Wines 2014 Rosé ($36)

The Rosé is produced from estate Cabernet (88%), as well as Malbec (6%), and Syrah (6%) from neighbors. Fermentation took place in stainless steel and once used French oak barrels. Oodles of watermelon characteristics leap from the nose. Strawberry, bright Bing cherry and a bit of vanilla fill out the palate. Continued red berry elements and a touch of crème fraiche are present on the crisp, refreshing finish.

Kelly Fleming Wines 2012 Big Pour Napa Red ($75)

Big Pour is a blend of Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), Syrah (5%), Malbec (5%), and Petit Verdot (5%) and from Napa Valley. Red and black fruit aromas fill the nose. From the first sip the mouth-feel is velvety in nature with black raspberry and cherry flavors in play. Bits of cocoa lead the finish which showcases a continuing cavalcade of sweet red fruit tinged with black. A dollop of cinnamon appears as well. This is a very accessible Cabernet based wine that is ready to drink today but will age well over the next 8 or so years.

Kelly Fleming Wines 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($110)

Their signature wine is composed of entirely Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate. It spent 20 months in 82% new French oak. 920 cases were produced. Wisps of toast and vanilla are present on the nose along with a cornucopia of berry aromas. There is an almost stunning amount of depth to the palate here with an avalanche of sweet red and black cherry flavors. These are underpinned by copious spice characteristics. Cinnamon, bits of dusty clay, minerals and chicory are all apparent throughout the prodigiously long finish. Firm, yielding tannins and solid acid provide an excellent backbone for aging. This estate wine is delicious now but will improve steadily over the next decade and drink well for a minimum of 5 years after that, perhaps longer.

The tasting room and an attached alcove are quite warm and inviting, as is Kelly herself. This is a beautiful little winery making terrific Napa Valley wines. Tastings are by appointment only, but don’t let that hold you back. They’re happy to have visitors so they can show off the beautiful estate and wines. Kelly Fleming Wines is precisely the type of place it’s worth making extra time and an extra effort to visit. If you’re like me, you’ll leave enchanted, with the magic that comes from the very best of what Napa has to offer. And really, how can you beat that? So reach out to them, next time you're headed to Napa Valley, you'll be glad you did.

Steelhead Vineyards - 2013 Sauvignon Blanc / 2013 Pinot Noir

Steelhead_Pinot.PR_Steelhead Vineyards is owned by Katy and Dan Leese who also founded the V2 Wine Group which owns a number of properties. Steelhead Vineyards itself is committed to charity. A percentage of all their sales are donated to Trout Unlimited. This group does outreach with Northern California Wineries to help them move towards improved water practices. This includes restoration of Salmon and Steelhead habitats on their properties and more. More information can be found on their website. Hugh Chapelle, from Quivira Vineyards, is the consulting winemaker. Here’s a look at two of their current releases. Steelhead 2013 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc ($13)

The fruit for this wine (100% Sauvignon Blanc) came from Lake County (80%), and Dry Creek Valley (20%). It was fermented in stainless steel at cold temperatures with a small amount sitting on the lees.  Just fewer than 6,000 cases were produced. Pineapple, yellow melon, mango, and lemon zest aromas are all present on the inviting nose. Apricot, white peach and a bit of spice show up on the agreeable palate which is easy going with more than sufficient depth. Minerals, hints of grass, white pepper and a hint of papaya all show up on the finish. This clean, crisp and fresh tasting Sauvignon Blanc is delicious all by itself and will pair well with creamy cheeses, light foods and the like.

Steelhead 2013 Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($15)

The fruit for this wine, all Pinot, was sourced in Sonoma County. Fermentation took place in open tanks with punch downs as well as some closed tanks with pump overs.  Aging took place in a combination of tank and barrel over 10 months. Just fewer than 12,000 cases were produced. Bing cherry, wild strawberry and hints of spice appear on the welcoming nose. A core of red fruits tinged lightly with black fruit characteristics are joined by lots of spice and mineral elements on the layered palate. Cinnamon, cloves, sweet cocoa, red cherry and bits of cranberry are all present on the above average finish. Firm acid lends structure and adds to the mouth-watering nature of this wine. Balanced Pinot Noir with good varietal typicity is hard to come by in this price range. That makes this wine a bit of a steal at $15.

These are very solid everyday wines. They’re both express their varietal quite well and provide a very impressive amount of delicious drinking pleasure for their price points. If you’re looking for a house white or red to purchase by the case, you’ll do well with these offerings from Steelhead. And you’ll also help make a difference. Sounds like a good deal for all involved.

Robert Mondavi Winery: An American Icon Approaches 50

Robert Mondavi Winery: An American Icon Approaches 50

IMG_20150428_091953In 2016, the Robert Mondavi Winery will celebrate its 50thanniversary. Having just spent a couple of days in Napa Valley as their guest, I’ve been thinking a lot about the impact that the man and his namesake winery have had on U.S. wine history. Back in 1966, when Robert made the bold move of leaving the family business (Charles Krug Winery), he had audacious ideas. He believed that Napa Valley was capable of producing world-class wines on par with those from any region of the world. In particular, his standard was French wine. Back then, Napa Valley had only a small number of wineries. In fact, the Robert Mondavi Winery was the first large winery built there since prohibition. Today, Napa is home to more than 800 different wine brands of all shapes and sizes. Most of this wouldn’t have been possible without the vision, dedication, and relentless passion of one man: Robert Mondavi. Striving to make the best wine possible..Head Over to The Daily Meal to read the rest

Visiting Napa's Round Pond Estate

2012RutherfordCab750ml_FrontThere are literally hundreds of ways to taste wine in Napa Valley. The classic tried and true way is to bump up to the bar and enjoy a range of current offerings. Napa started doing that way back when and allowed Vintners to showcase their wares. The idea was and still is that if you liked one or more of their wines you’d take some home to enjoy later. At most wineries you can still do this. Many tasting rooms, all over now, also offer additional ways to enjoy wine. This can be as simple as a wine and cheese pairing or as involved as a helicopter flight to a mountain top tasting. Round Pond Estate has chosen to allow guests to enjoy the bounty of their property and all that encompasses in a number of ways. Depending on how much time you want to commit and what parts of Round Pond you’d like to see you can spend as little as half an hour there, or as much as a day. For my recent visit I cut it right down the middle and spent more than 2 hours there. My guest and I took part in Round Pond’s Il Pranzo Lunch ($120). Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

Mud House is Producing Distinct New Zealand Wines

MHSauvignon blanc is what New Zealand is best known for, though pinot noir is has fast become a close second. Numerous brands in all price tiers have made their mark around the world, particularly in the U.S., and both grapes thrive there, in different regions, and there are a host of excellent examples from the value category all the way on up to the luxury tier. I recently sat down to discuss this over dinner in New York City with the brand ambassador of Mud House, Jack Glover, and tasted through some current releases. The three below made a particularly strong impression. Head over to The Daily Meal to read The rest.

Chile’s Viña Koyle: Wines of Irrepressible Passion

It’s a lot of fun to discover a musician or band at the very beginning of their career, before they’re a household name. If you do that, when they achieve success it’s likely you’ll feel a stronger connection than in the case when you stumble across an already well known artist because you heard all their hits. In essence, that’s how I feel about the wines of Viña Koyle. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking them since their first vintage. That has given me the opportunity to watch them grow. The vines have aged and already good wines have gotten better one vintage after another. Winemaker Cristóbal Undurraga is constantly tinkering and refining his winemaking approach, adding varietals to blends, using new techniques, and launching new wines. I’ve had the opportunity to taste his wines with him on numerous occasions and each encounter has been a treat. In part that’s because the wines are really, really good, yet still improving all the time. However, it’s also because the raw passion Cristóbal has for winemaking is palpable the moment you encounter him. Whether he’s speaking about sustainable and biodynamic farming practices, aging wine.... Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

Eleven Wines You Should Be Drinking Now

Wine shelves all over the country are jammed with countless selections and choices are so varied it can be dizzying. With that in mind, I’m here to help you work your way through the haze of bottles. I tasted through more than three dozen wines across all price ranges and stylistic tiers, and here are my 11 favorites from the bunch. Hugel et Fils 2012 Gentil ($15)

This vintage of “Gentil” blends together pinot gris (23 percent), pinot blanc (21 percent), riesling (20 percent), sylvaner (20 percent), gewurztraminer (14 percent), and muscat (2 percent). Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled vats. It was gently fined and filtered prior to bottling. Lychee fruit aromas dominate the inviting nose of this French blend. “Gentil” has a palate stuffed with white and yellow melon, peach, and apricot flavors. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

Benziger Family Winery - 2012 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc / 2012 Sonoma County Merlot / 2012 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

Benziger Family Winery located in the heart of Sonoma County has been at the forefront of sustainable farming for years. They’re certified as such; they also employ Biodynamic practices. They make a wide range of wines in varying quantities and styles. One common denominator is their quest to allow the grapes to shine. Here’s a look at three current releases. Benziger Family Winery 2012 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc – Suggested Retail Price $15. The fruit for this wine came from several vineyards within the North Coast appellation. It was aged completely in stainless steel drums on its lees. Big lemon zest aromas light up the nose of this Sauvignon Blanc. Tropical fruit underlies tons of citrus, green apple and a hint of grass on the substantially flavorful palate along with wisps of sage and thyme. The clean, crisp and refreshing finish is studded with racy acidity, spices such as cardamom and a gentle hint of salinity. Benziger’s North Coast Sauvignon Blanc is a killer value for the money. This is a wine loaded with varietal typicity which will complement light foods or work well as an aperitif. Increasingly the North Coast appellation is a great source for appealing Sauvignon Blanc. This example is certainly proof of that.

Benziger Family Winery 2012 Sonoma County Merlot – Suggested Retail Price $19. The fruit for this wine was sourced from several areas within Sonoma County. After cold soaking, various fermentation lengths and temperatures, barrel aging took place over 16 months in a combination of French and American oak. Red cherry blossoms and Mexican Vanilla Bean aromas are both heavily in evidence on the agreeable nose of this Merlot. A ton of round, juicy, red fruit flavors fill the palate here. Bits of kirsch are present as well. The finish is velvety with black cherry, dark chocolate and earth in droves.  The problem with a lot of Merlot under $20 is that it’s hard to peg as Merlot. Too much if it simply tastes like generic red wine. That’s far from an issue here. This is very much a Merlot, one that Cabernet lovers will appreciate too. It’s going to be hard to beat at this price point.

Benziger Family Winery 2012 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon – Suggested Retail Price $20. The Cabernet was sourced from both mountain and benchland vineyards throughout Sonoma County. After fermentation it was aged in barrel for 16 months. A bevy of spices, earth and toast aromas present on the nose of this Cabernet. Blackberry and cherry flavors dominate the full bodied palate. Espresso, black tea, and earth are all present on the finish which has solid length. Medium tannins and firm acid provide a nice backbone. For $20 this Cabernet Sauvignon is perfectly suited, and fairly priced for everyday consumption.

This trio of wines from Benziger Family Winery is well priced. More importantly though these wines reflect both a sense of place respective to their appellations and lots of typical varietal character. Whether in this price range or if you’re looking for premium offerings, wines with the Benziger name provide genuine character and relative value. Trust them with your wine dollars.

Trione Vineyards & Winery produces great Sonoma County Wines

For more than 30 years the Trione Family has been growing and selling grapes in Sonoma County from their own property, as well as vineyards they manage. Almost a decade ago they launched Trione Vineyards & Winery to bottle their own wines. Scot Covington, their founding winemaker, brought winemaking experience in Sonoma County and elsewhere to the table as well as winery building and design knowledge. Over the last few years, I’ve been impressed with the quality and value their releases represent. They make Estate wines that represent two distinct appellations within Sonoma County: Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley. Here’s a look at the most recent releases from their 115-acre property located in the heart of the Russian River Valley. All three wines are 100 percent varietal. Head over to to read the rest.

Rodney Strong Vineyards Delivers Quality and Value

tasting-room-01-300dpiIf you’re a regular wine drinker and, like most of us, operating on some sort of budget, Rodney Strong Vineyards is a name you should know. They are one of Sonoma County’s most important wineries, if you ask me; perhaps that seems like a bold statement, but the evidence backs it up. Year after year they provide consistent quality and often over-deliver on value for the price in question for a specific bottle of wine. Add the fact that they do this in numerous price tiers from the $10 range all the way up to wines in the $75 range. And as importantly as any of that, they dependably turn out wines that are emblematic of their home in Sonoma County. Here’s a look at a number of their current releases from several tiers in their portfolio. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

Hall Makes Tasty Napa Valley Wines

HALL Napa Valley Sauvignon BottleshotHall Napa Valley currently produces about 120,000 cases of wine per year. They have been making wine in Napa since they opened their winery in 2005. Just this spring, the Halls launched a new facility in St. Helena. This new winery and tasting room was built on a site that has a 150-year history in Napa Valley wine making. The Halls still maintain their original, intimate location in Rutherford and continue to make some wines there, but the new facility allows them to host a variety of events as well as have more people visit and taste wine on a daily basis. On a recent trip to Napa Valley I stopped at Hall St. Helena, toured their new facility and grounds, and of course tasted through their current portfolio. Here are some wines from their Napa Valley collection that I enjoyed. These selections are widely available all over the country. Head over to to read the rest.

Chile’s Concha y Toro Makes Food & Budget-Friendly Wines

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Concha y Toro is the largest winery in Chile. The depth and variety of their portfolio spans many styles, price-points, and varietals. They employ several winemakers; each focuses on a different tier of wines. I recently had lunch with Marcelo Papa at Haven’t Kitchen. He’s the Concha y Toro winemaker responsible, among others, for the Marqués de Casa Concha line. These offerings are single vineyard, site-specific wines. Over lunch we tasted a number of the selections in this range, each paired with a food that showcased a different global influence. The goal was to highlight the ability of their wines to pair with cuisine of various styles from all over the world. If wine pairing is performance, this was a tour de force showing. The foods prepared by Concha y Toro executive chef Ruth Van Waerebeek worked fabulously with Marcelo’s wines. Prior to sitting down to lunch we tasted a few newly launched wines outside the Marques line. Here are the six wines from this afternoon that really struck a chord with me. Read the rest over at The Daily Meal

Chile’s Concha y Toro Makes Food & Budget-Friendly Wines

MarquesConcha y Toro is the largest winery in Chile. The depth and variety of their portfolio spans many styles, price-points, and varietals. They employ several winemakers; each focuses on a different tier of wines. I recently had lunch with Marcelo Papa at Haven’t Kitchen. He’s the Concha y Toro winemaker responsible, among others, for the Marqués de Casa Concha line. These offerings are single vineyard, site-specific wines. Over lunch we tasted a number of the selections in this range, each paired with a food that showcased a different global influence. The goal was to highlight the ability of their wines to pair with cuisine of various styles from all over the world. If wine pairing is performance, this was a tour de force showing. The foods prepared by Concha y Toro executive chef Ruth Van Waerebeek worked fabulously with Marcelo’s wines. Prior to sitting down to lunch we tasted a few newly launched wines outside the Marques line. Here are the six wines from this afternoon that really struck a chord with me. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

A Tiny Peek at Australia’s Wine Diversity

Australia is a huge wine producing country whose depth is apparent in both the assortment of varietals they can grow well as well as the styles they’re made in. For years our shores were inundated with mostly lower end Australian wines, often in the form of overripe Shiraz. As a result, the bounty from Australia is significantly broader than a lot of wine lovers realize. All across the Unites States a larger and larger swath of terrific Australian wines are filling our shelves. It’s a great time to try some interesting Australian wines; here are six recent releases that I recommend. To read all about them, head over to The Daily Meal.

Two Tasty Wines from Matua

What do you think of when New Zealand Wine is mentioned? I bet your answer is sauvignon blanc, which is no surprise as it makes up a very large percentage of their crop. So try to imagine New Zealand’s wine identity without sauvignon blanc. It’s hard to do right? Well I recently had dinner with Bill Spence, a man who can imagine just that. It was Bill and his brother Ross who first planted sauvignon blanc commercially in New Zealand back in 1969. A few years later in 1974 they released the first ever commercial vintage of sauvignon blanc in New Zealand. Here’s a look at two wines from Matua that are available in the United States right now and represent excellent values. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest...

Brancott Estate - 2010 Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc

Hero Bottle Shot 2 FLAT_R3As strong as Pinot Noir from New Zealand has come on the last decade or so, Sauvignon Blanc remains its signature grape. Brancott Estate is one of the largest producers of Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Their portfolio contains several tier designations which feature among other grapes, Sauvignon Blanc at each level of course. In addition to those wines they’ve decided to create a Sauvignon Blanc that in a sense stands atop everything else; in short an Icon wine. This new offering is called Chosen Rows. Last week in New York City, they hosted a launch dinner for the wine and I had the opportunity to taste it with their chief winemaker Patrick Materman. We sampled Chosen Rows alongside seven other well regarded Sauvignon Blancs from key regions of the world. After that tasting we sampled other offerings in the Brancott portfolio along with our dinner. I kept a glass of the Chosen Rows in front of me all night and repeatedly went back to it alongside my meal. Tasting it in a flight is one experience, pairing it with food another. Here’s a look at Chosen Rows.

The Brancott Estate 2010 Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc is a limited release wine. This offering was produced from fruit which was hand harvested. All of it came from select rows of vines that are part of the area Brancott first planted to Sauvignon Blanc almost 40 years ago. This selection is limited to a grand total 3,500 bottles which are hand numbered. It has a suggested retail price of $65. Gooseberry and grapefruit aromas are dominant on the nose of this Sauvignon Blanc. The palate is gentle and layered with oodles of depth and complexity which present themselves to your taste buds in one tender wave after another. The unctuous fruit flavors are joined by a pleasing touch of savory green herb. This wine has tremendous persistence and an excellent finish which goes on for an impressively noticeable time. Continued citrus fruits, bits of grass and white pepper spice are all in play as things come to a close. On its own this Sauvignon Blanc is delicious and mouthwatering. When it’s paired with the right foods it’s downright ethereal.

The Sauvignon Blancs we sampled from other producers were all interesting in their own right and many of them were wines that have quite a following; Merry Edwards from Sonoma County and New Zealand’s own Cloudy Bay being just two examples. The wines on the table had suggested retail prices that ranged from $50 to $150. So Chosen Rows was showcased alongside very good company. Chosen Rows was quite easily my favorite among the group of eight high end Sauvignon Blancs. During dinner we tasted some other SB’s as well as a Pinot Noir. I enjoyed each to varying degrees; however Chosen Rows remained the star of the night. To sum up it’s amongst the very best handful of Sauvignon Blancs I’ve tasted it 2013. Its production is limited so it’s a wine you’re going to need to make an effort to find. If you love Sauvignon Blanc though you owe it to yourself to taste Brancott Estate Chosen Rows, it’s a special wine.

Davis Bynum - 2012 Virginia’s Block Sauvignon Blanc

Back in January I toured the winery within a winery facility at Rodney Strong Vineyards alongsie Winemaker Greg Morthole. In addition to many of the higher end Rodney Strong Wines, Greg works on the Davis Bynum Wines. We tasted a ton of wines out of barrel and tank that day at all stages of development. One that I recalled standing out was a Single Block Sauvignon Blanc that was set to be a new release for Davis Bynum. I try not to have expectations when tasting wine but the strong memory of tasting this before it was bottled lingered in my mind when I popped the cork on the finished product. The question would be whether it was going to be as good 7 or so months later as it was in its developmental phase. The Davis Bynum 2012 Virginia’s Block Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Garfield Ranch in Windsor. As the name indicates all of the fruit used was from one block. Virginia’s Block was named after winery founder Davis Bynum’s wife. This offering is entirely Sauvignon Blanc. After harvesting the fruit was fermented utilizing native yeast. Fermentation and aging took place entirely in stainless steel. This wine which is distributed in only three states, New York, Florida and California has a suggested retail price of $25.

Aromas of papaya, guava and lime leap from the nose of this 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. Citrus and tropical fruit flavors dominate the mellifluous palate; a gentle grassy note plays a subordinate role. One gorgeous flavor after another hits your senses as all the fruit characteristics are joined by spice and mineral elements. Everything comes together into a refined, balanced and elegant package that’s a cut above the vast majority of Sauvignon Blanc in this price range. Bits of honeydew melon, as well as continued spice and mineral notes emerge on the lengthy finish which is crisp and loaded with zippy acidity.

The inaugural release of the Davis Bynum Virginia’s Black Sauvignon Blanc is a stunningly gorgeous effort. Davis Bynum was the first to make single Vineyard Pinot Noirs in Russian River Valley so making this wine is also a wonderful way to honor his lasting impact and legacy. One note of caution when drinking this wine, avoid the temptation to over chill it. Serving it a few degrees warmer than the average white allows all of its layers and subtle charms to shine ever so brightly.

The answer to the question I posed above is that this offering is even more memorable and fantastic as a bottled wine than what I recalled from before. Lot’s of wine comes my way to taste. And generally that’s what happens I taste it, make my notes and the rest goes down the sink so I can move on and taste the next one. Not on this occasion, here was a wine which was a very rare case indeed; I ended up drinking the entire bottle. It was entirely too delicious to dump a single drop.