2019 Sauvignon Blanc "Old Vines"
When it comes to my single vineyard Chardonnays, like Top Cream, I feel like the fruit provides the stage upon which a number of actors can shine. With Top Cream and The Limit, for example, it’s all about sensations of cream, yeast, mineral, vanilla, and butter. It’s like these things are all baked together into a brioche that is stuffed with some sort of fruit. While the fruit is there, it’s not the fruit by itself that’s telling your brain that you are in for something special. It’s not so much about the apple as it is the pie. So, consider this stylistic thought for a moment while we discuss my Simpatico Sauvignon Blanc.
Simpatico is made almost the same way as Top Cream. It’s barrel fermented in a good percentage of new French Oak, and it does go through the malolactic fermentation which builds in a little of that baked quality. It does rest in barrels after fermentation on its yeast sediments (lees). And, like my single vineyard Chards through 2018, Simpatico was bottled without filtration, so as to preserve every nuance I have tried to build into it.
But Simpatico is not Chardonnay. It’s Sauvignon Blanc, a grape that has more varietal punch than Chardonnay, especially when it is grown in a cool climate like ours. Sauvignon Blanc is not the stage upon which all the other stars dance. Sauvignon Blanc is the star, and it’s a star that demands a bit of subservience from the other players. In recognition of this, there are a couple of stylistic modifications that I make each year. for starters, the new French Oak barrels from Thierry Doreau are “Chauffe Blond”, which means they are raw and untoasted. This provides a more simplified pure expression of vanilla that supports Sauvignon Blanc’s more assertive side without competing with it.
Also, Simpatico does not stay in its barrels on its lees quite as long as my single vineyard Chardonnays. With the Chards I want a full complement of creaminess, so there I stay on the lees for a full 9 -10 months; i.e. a full “elevage”. Well, Sauvignon Blanc is not so much about the cheese; it’s about the fruit. So, I separate the Sauvignon Blanc from any would be antagonists a bit earlier. In effect, SIMPATICO is a way to describe the style of the winemaking, which recognizes the fruit for its nature. The wine is still quite built by Sauvignon Blanc standards. No stainless fermentation here.
It is still quite layered. It’s just that the grape plays a more central role in the construction. It took me a few decades to figure all this out.
I guess better late than never.