Monday, April 6, 2009

Fiddlehead Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

I recently had the privilege of tasting a number of wines from Fiddlehead Cellars with Terence Livingston, their national sales manager, and Laura Lamprecht, owner of Specialty Wines and Liquors, Fiddlehead’s distributor.

They were, as always, excellent examples of both the grape varieties themselves (in this case Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir) as well as the vineyards in which the fruit was farmed.

Fiddlehead sources its Sauvignon Blanc from five vineyards in the eastern part of the Santa Ynez Valley: Stolpman, La Pressa, Grassini, Westerly, and Vogelzang. And within each vineyard, specific blocks are farmed according to Fiddlehead’s demands, which allows for an estate-vineyard level of attention to detail without the necessity of owning the vineyards themselves. (It’s a different case with the Pinot Noirs, but more on that tomorrow.)

I had a chance to taste two of the Sauvignon Blancs, and was very impressed with both of them. The Happy Canyon 2006, sourced from the Vogelzang and Westerly vineyards, showed a honeyed aroma on the nose, as well as slightly creamy, nutty notes in the background. An excellent sense of structure really came through almost despite the creamy, round nature of the palate. This was a quietly perfumed Sauvignon Blanc, showing charming flavors of lemon curd and white peach, and should probably be served just a touch warmer than you might be used to in order for all of its character to come through with maximum clarity.

The Hunnysuckle, on the other hand, was a rare treat not just because of its high quality, but because of its age. As a 2003, after all, it had the benefit of several more years of evolution than most California Sauvignon Blanc ever really receives.

That age showed right away in the wine’s deep, rich gold color. But those years, rather than rendering the wine tired and flabby, had worked some kind of magic. Wonderfully soft bell-pepper and apricot aromas led the way to surprisingly long flavors of both marzipan and fresh almonds, all of it carried on a texture that was more than a bit reminiscent of the great waxy whites of the Rhône Valley. The 2003 Hunnysuckle is a great example of the tremendous range and depth of California Sauvignon Blanc when grown properly and vinified with care, understanding, and passion.

Tomorrow, the Pinots…


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