J. ROCHIOLI RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY OLD VINES SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017
“Drinking good wine in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.”… Michael Broadbent
Every time I enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, I’m still surprised that this grape, along with Cabernet Franc, is responsible for creating Cabernet Sauvignon: a red wine grape more structured than either of its parents, tannic and with concentrated phenolics. But DNA profiling took this from suspicion to fact back in 1997. Now the only suspicion remaining is when (not how) this occurred. The “how” is that the crossing was spontaneous, an act of Mother Nature in the field. The “when” is guessed to be in the 18th century, and the “where” is in the Loire Valley of France.
That brings me to surprise number two. The Loire Valley is home to Sancerre. It is home to Pouilly-Fume and their eastern satellites: Quincy, Reuilly, and Menetou-Salon. The climate here and the porous limestone soil argue intelligently for matching the variety to terroir. And when it comes to enjoying Sauvignon Blanc, this is the juice I have always drank. It is the spiritual home of this varietal. Despite New Zealand catapulting into the U.S. market “big time” with its Marlborough style in the mid-1980s, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire is still my “reflex” option. All palates are personal and mine prefers the more subtle, mineral notes from France.
Problem is, this Sauvignon Blanc is from California. Vines are estate grown in the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. I had tasted Rochioli’s “Estate” (blend) Sauvignon Blanc before. (see http://www.winemizer.net/2018/03/rochioli-vineyards-sauvignon-blanc-2017.html
I understand you’re looking for traditional tasting notes. But that’s the beauty of Rochioli’s single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Using them - the crib notes of wine reviewers - would be a disservice. If you appreciate seduction, hint, nuance – you will appreciate this wine for its complex mystery. The challenge in tasting and talking about this magnificent Sauvignon Blanc is dissecting its flavors. Vegetative/herbal (grass, green herbs, tomato leaf, sage) against tree fruit & melon (green melon) and citrus (lime, grapefruit). Gooseberry vs. rounder, softer notes. Lime leaves against lavender. It’s the seamless melding of characters in Rochioli’s Sauvignon Blanc that amazed me. Nothing to excess. Everything in balance, playing against its opposite. It plays in the glass and on the palate as a symphony, not a concerto. No one note is dominant, each coming in at seemingly the right moment and with just the correct volume to work for the taster's enjoyment. The five of us at dinner (all wine aficionados, and two of us committed Francophiles) were impressed. That’s a consensus and a recommendation for a wine you may want to enjoy at your own table.
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(1) Asparagus soup just needs some onion, celery, carrot and garlic, all diced, softened stove top and made smooth in the food processor then simmered in chicken broth with just a touch of half & half added later. Recipe upon request (if I can remember).
(2) The estate blend is available retail and at the winery (or through its website). “List” wines are available, because of their limited production, only to those individuals who have registered to be included on the “list”. Visit the website, if interested, and sign in to be included. Many people, like me, on the list are old and won’t be on the list forever – thereby making room.
(3) Coming up: Part III: The Main Course!
J. Rochioli Vineyards & Winery: http://www.rochioliwinery.com/
6192 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448
ARP N/A ($48.00 “list” price)