Santa Barbara County
Years ago, in one of my little newsletters, I wrote that sauvignon blanc’s fall from grace was much like zinfandel’s, but that was before zin became popular again. Sauvignon blanc has never had a revival, and that is a pity because it easily deserves the attention and renewed interest that zinfandel received. There is no more refreshing and versatile white wine than sauvignon blanc, and it is an ever so much better match with food than chardonnay could hope to be.
You might not realize that we have make sauvignon blanc since 1984. This grape variety is one of my favorites and has proved to be one of the most challenging for me to make. My direction in fashioning the wine has changed a lot over the years. Originally, I took expensive white Bordeaux as my model and tried my best to hide the character of sauvignon blanc with lots of semillon and oak. Those fancy Bordeaux whites fascinated me at first, but somehow they were never that satisfying to drink. It took me more than ten years to realize that, since I really prefer sauvignon blanc that tastes like sauvignon blanc, I should be making it that way too. Obviously there are some fabulous Bordeaux blancs that aren’t over-oaked, but still I found the spicy wines from Sancerre more my style.
Since 1998, we have been getting our sauvignon blanc grapes from Westerly Vineyard at the eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley. It has proven to be a great spot. The soil is poor and the vines are low in vigor–which is great for wine quality. We have our section pruned specially for us to open up the canopy and limit the crop. From this we get intensely flavored grapes that become character-filled wine. This 2001 is like a blend of the racy 1999 and the elegant 2000–another winner for sure!