Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Spottswoode Winery, 2006 Sauvignon Blanc

What better varietal to write about on the eve of the Summer Solstice than Sauvignon Blanc? I had originally intended to cover several red wines from a few of the lesser known communes of Bordeaux, but today turned out to be the first really hot day of the summer. It was one of those days during which you involuntarily keep waving your hand in front of your car's A/C vents to see if they are still working. As the day wore on and the mercury continued to ascend, my enthusiasm for tasting a flight of young, powerful, tannic reds waned. Eventually, I decided that only a maniac would want to taste young Bordeaux on such a day, and I am arguably no maniac. So, when I got home I didn't even bother with the rigmarole of scanning through my CellarTracker database to find what I already knew was the perfect wine for such a day - Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc.

Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery is best known for their perennially fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon, which is why a few years ago I scheduled a tasting at the winery. It is a leisurely and educational tour and tasting, and it is one of the better tours in the Napa Valley. Tastings without a tour are currently not an option. Only two tastings per week are scheduled, so if you are interested in visiting Spottswoode make reservations several weeks in advance. It was at this tasting I was introduced to Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc.

The tour began on the covered porch of their Victorian style house on Madrona St. in St. Helena, which has been converted into offices. I was eager to taste their current release Cabernet Sauvignon, which at the time was the epic 2001 vintage. As we waited for a few stragglers to show up, they poured each of us a glass of the 2004 Sauvignon Blanc to start with. Not thinking too much about it (because I was there to taste the Cab), I took a sip while chatting with some other guests, and was immediately blown away. Damn! That's some good Sauvignon Blanc, I said aloud. I didn't even know these guys made an SB! Soon, accolades from various other guests could be heard as well.

Just about that time the stragglers finally arrived and the tour began. The stragglers, by the way, had just come from visiting David Arthur Vineyards and were pretty shellacked. Apparently, their tour at David Arthur got a little out of hand, and they ended up doing a bunch of tequila shots with the tour guide. Did I mention that Spottswoode tours begin at 10:00 a.m.? Yikes! Actually, they were very nice people, but this tour must have seemed rather somber when compared with their first tour of the morning.

The tour ended with a poolside tasting of the Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which was outstanding, however, I joined their mailing list for the Sauvignon Blanc. Like their Cabernet Sauvignon, you can bank on Spottswoode producing one of the best SB's in California year after year. I often serve this wine when we have guests on warm summer days. Regardless of their experience with SB, after their first taste of Spottswoode it seems they always ask what they are drinking and where they can buy it. This is a great summer wine and SB is a great food wine as well. Although the price is on the high end for Sauvignon Blanc, you certainly won't be suffering from buyer's remorse after your first taste. In fact, you'll probably be a little sad you didn't buy more.

Producer: Spottswoode Winery
Wine: 2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Winemakers: Rosemary Cakebread and Jennifer Williams
Estimated Cost: $34

Tasting Notes: Crisp and tropical. Straw colored with hints of grapefruit, melons, honeysuckle, peaches and vanilla. Nice weight for a Sauvignon Blanc, but still balanced with underlying minerality and acidity. Finshes long. Still early in its development, it should improve over the next several months and drink well through 2010.

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