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Wine of the week: Langtry, 2014 Lillie Vineyard, Guenoc Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Thank God for ocean breezes.

The winds from the east protected Langtry Estate & Vineyards in Middletown from the raging Rocky and Jerusalem fires.

“Once again the ocean breeze saved us,” said winemaker Eric Stine. “Fortunately this year was very similar to last year’s Butts fire, which was also very close to us.”

Stine is behind our wine-of-the-week winner - the Langtry, 2014 Lillie Vineyard, Guenoc Valley Sauvignon Blanc at $25.

The Langtry is Lake County sauvignon blanc at its best. It has a base note of passion fruit, but it’s also edgy. It’s grassy, but not overly so, and it has notes of grapefruit, lime and mineral. Refreshing. Vibrant. Lovely.

Stine said the winery’s house style for sauvignon blanc is “warm climate.”

“This is a softer style but also very tropical,” Stine said. “Wine should be a reflection of the grape and place; that is what we have here, a short but intense growing season.”

The most challenging part of making sauvignon blanc is pinpointing the pick, Stine said.

“We’re going through it right now- calling the pick,” Stine said. “It’s very stressful for sauvignon blanc because there is a point where you start to lose intensity of flavors, but right before you are still gaining them.”

Lake County, according to Stine, isn’t just exceptional for grooming sauvignon blanc grapes.

“The cabernet is lovely here,” Stine said. “I think it’s the mixture of warm days and cool nights, which get the fruit ripe without baking out the varietal.”

The winemaker’s foray into the world of grape growing was when he backpacked through Europe during college.

“I picked up work wherever I could get it,” he said. “In Germany, I wound up picking grapes with the Polish immigrants on the steep vineyards of the Middle Rhine. At the end of every day the owner’s wife would prepare an early dinner, which we all ate in the vineyard as the sun set.”

Wine, at its best, is all about a sense of place, Stine said.

“The Langtry sauvignon blanc’s grapes are from the Lillie Vineyard, just 6.3 acres, at the heart of the Guenoc Valley AVA,” Stine said. “The 1857 home of Lillie Langtry, the vineyard and estates’ namesake, sits next to the vineyard.”

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