Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most iconic wines you can find. It’s no surprise it’s the 8th most popular varietal in the world. Moreover, it’s one of the Top 5 wines to come out of Napa Valley. It’s also one of the five designated white varietals of Bordeaux. Bordeaux is the region in France that some say most closely mirrors the terroir of Napa. And yes, Sauvignon Blanc can be as popular—and expensive—as its red-based Bordeaux brother. A bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc can easily fetch up to $1,000.
This begs the question: who does it better? Is Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc closest to the true expression of the varietal? Or does the French style take that honor? At Cultivar Wine and Caspar Estate, we’re huge fans of this light, crisp, grassy-yet-tropical wine, and the “who does it best” question is one we take seriously.
Caspar Estate is our 13-acre vineyard located in the hills above the Rutherford appellation in Napa Valley. Planted 600 feet above the fog line with an exposure 20 degrees off north, the vineyard sees sun from early morning until late afternoon. This ensures even ripeness of the grapes. Furthermore, cool nights help to develop firm tannins and fresh acidity creating remarkable structure and balance in the finished wines. Our rocky serpentine soils benefit from a mineral deposit rich in iron and magnesium. This distinctive mineral deposit provides layers of complexity and flavor to wines unique to our site.
Our House Block North is where we planted just one acre of Sauvignon Blanc back in 2015. That’s right, just one acre, which yields enough grapes to make around 90 cases of our Estate Sauvignon Blanc. We could have planted more acreage, but the soil, sun exposure, and drainage of this one block were better suited for SB than the other blocks. As a family vineyard, we aim to listen to what the land has to tell us.
We also trust our winemaker to best utilize what the land has to offer—and we’ve got one of the best winemakers in the business.
With such a small yield of grapes from one acre of Sauvignon Blanc, it’s important that our winemaker is absolutely top-notch. That’s why we enlisted Julien Fayard, one of the most respected winemakers in Napa Valley. We also chose Julien because of his Bordeaux roots.
Julien Fayard gained his knowledge and defined his core winemaking style by working at grand Chateaux in France such as Lafite Rothschild and Smith Haut Laffite. Julien worked alongside renowned winemaker Philippe Melka here in Napa, which helped to hone his skills. His philosophy is to produce wines that express pure, terroir-driven specificities and characteristics. He believes that as a winemaker, one doesn’t control the wine but rather wine style is the result of a combination of soil, climate, and vineyard management.
“As a winemaker, my job is to bring out the best qualities that the vines have provided,” says Fayard. “I don’t seek to make a style of wine but more so to make wine that sings of its place, its history, and its uniqueness. That’s my goal as a winemaker, to make wines that are pure expressions of their environment and not mask it. Wines with an identity.”
This identity is truly expressed in the recent release of the 2020 Caspar Estate Sauvignon Blanc. Available exclusively to our allocation members, Our new release of Estate Sauvignon Blanc greets the nose with Herbes de Provence, fresh-cut grass, and tangy kiwi, while the steel-tank fermentation brings forward classic notes of grapefruit, flint, and wet gravel. A touch of new oak creates a lush, tropical fruit creaminess on the finish.
Want to learn more? Caspar Estate is proud to present a Virtual Wine Tasting with Julien Fayard on June 8th at 4PM EST. Hosted by Caspar Estate’s Hospitality Manager Deborah Evans, you’ll get an opportunity to learn more about Julien’s thoughts on winemaking and the unique terroir of Caspar Estate. Sign-up is free, even if you’re not currently an allocation member.
Our love for Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t stop with our Estate wines. Each year, Cultivar Wine produces a Sauvignon Blanc just in time for spring and summer. This wine is sourced from some of our favorite vineyard plots from around the valley. We believe it’s a delicious reflection of small-lot production in Napa—a kind of “mirror” into the vintage. The 2020 Cultivar Wine Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is no exception to this. The 2020 season will be remembered as historic. In Napa, a warm, dry winter didn’t give way to rain and cold weather until the end of March. The mild spring season gave us a great early start, while summer brought very cool mornings and very warm days. While the 2020 Napa Valley harvest proved to have its challenges, it is not without the hints of brilliance that define this magical area.
Sunshine and a warm, golden-straw color jump from the glass, while the heady scent of Meyer lemon, orange blossom, and pineapple swirl in unison. Each sip reveals lux layers of tropical fruit, green apple, and key lime. The creamy texture and surprisingly long finish will leave you wanting more. Cook up some Cioppino, order some dim-sum, or get some sushi to go, and pair with this wine with friends. And at only $21 a bottle for Cultivar Wine Club Members, it’s one of the best values you will find for Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
So, in which terroir does Sauvignon Blanc find its best expression? Is it Napa Valley, Bordeaux, or some other region? Sure, we have our bias for Napa Valley (and some honest claims to back it up!), but perhaps the best way to find out is this: taste the wines yourself and decide! The journey is half the fun.