This wine continues to amaze me in many ways, but two in particular come to mind—the incredible consistency from year to year which always says to me, right grape growing in the right area. And the across the board enthusiasm the wine generates among our customers. A Sauvignon Blanc unlike any other!
As you enter Napa Valley from the south, you are in Carneros, driving on the highway that runs right through the old Stewart Dairy property. To your left on the hill, are the famous “Oreo” cows, and to your right are the 20-year-old Sauvignon Blanc vines. Something amazing is going on here. Salt water intrusion—the vineyard is protected by a levee—the wind, restrictive soils, clone, temperature, as well as the unknowns—impact the grapes, resulting in wines with tropical, mineral, and elusive notes more reminiscent of France’s Loire Valley.
Growers Jim Fore and Doug Hill planted the vineyard for me, and it produced its first crop in 1999. I have worked with the grapes ever since, and even in challenging years, no vintage has every disappointed.
Far from disappointing, our 2017 is right up there among our best. What a growing season—torrential rains and flooding in the winter gave way to periodic blasts of heat. Labor Day weekend was the most extreme, with temperature in San Francisco 105+ -- unheard of! Fortunately, we were able to bring in the Sauvignon just before the heat cranked up. In addition, the winter rains definitely helped all the varieties at Stewart as they began the growing season much less stressed than the last couple of vintages.
Our winemaking strategy has remained consistent for many years now. Grapes arrive early in the day and proceed directly to the press without any crushing. The resulting juice ferments at a cool temperature in stainless steel for two to three weeks. We select a yeast strain known to accentuate aromatics, freshness, and fruitiness. After fermentation the majority of the wine remains in stainless steel, while some ages sur-lie in older cooperage. That sur-lie aged component seems to provide just the right amount of texture to the wine.
Pale straw in color, our 2017 presents a kaleidoscope of exotic aromas: mango, peach, lemongrass, and passionfruit. The wine is focused and dances on the palate with bright, appropriate acidity, and flavors that move toward peach and melon as the wine finishes. Texture is notable—some creaminess and body, but always reigned in by the wine’s structure and acidity
FYI—bottled on Valentine’s Day. To elevate the energy of the wine even one step higher!