Subscribe

Wine of the week: Quivira, 2020 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc

This week’s blind tasting

Quivira, 2020 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.3%, $23, 4.5 stars. This is a New Zealand-style sauvignon blanc, grassy with notes of grapefruit and lime zest. It has racy acidity and pitch-perfect balance and finishes crisp. It’s gorgeous.

J. Cage Cellars, 2020 Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $30, 4 stars. Tropical meet citrus in this sauvignon blanc, with aromas and flavors of Meyer lemon, lime and pineapple. It has great minerality and well-integrated flavors. Smart.

Ladera, 2020 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14%, $36, 4 stars. This is a layered sauvignon blanc with notes of mango, Meyer lemon, anise and honeysuckle. Its charm is that it’s weighted to stone fruit and has great balance. Lovely.

Whitehaven, 2020 Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, 13%, $17, 4 stars. A grassy sauvignon blanc with a citrus quench — grapefruit and lime. With its pungent fruit and racy acidity, it will appeal to those who like the New Zealand style. A steal for the price.

Trione, 2020 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, 13.5%, $25, 3.5 stars. Pretty stone fruit — nectarine and white peach — give this sauvignon blanc its allure. It’s also balanced, with nice length. Solid.

Sauvignon blanc in the winter? Are you nuts?

Not at all, according to Hugh Chappelle, winemaker of Healdsburg’s Quivira Vineyards.

“Just like enjoying a rosé in the winter, a nice sauvignon blanc is a welcome ray of sunshine, where its bright personality, upfront fruit and juicy acidity just seem to liven up any occasion,” he said.

Chappelle is behind The Press Democrat’s wine of the week winner — the Quivira, 2020 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.3% at $23. A New Zealand-style sauvignon blanc, it’s grassy with notes of grapefruit and lime zest. With racy acidity and pitch-perfect balance, it finishes crisp.

Other tasty sauvignon blancs, at a range of price points, include: J. Cage Cellars, 2020 Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $30; Ladera, 2020 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14%, $36; Whitehaven, 2020 Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, 13%, $17; and Trione, 2020 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, 13.5%, $25.

As for the winning Quivira sauvignon blanc, Chappelle said four things set it apart from others in its price range.

First, the winery uses “phased picking,” which means they pick the fruit at many different points of ripeness to naturally build balance and complexity.

Chappelle also opts for a thoughtful blend of stainless steel, French oak and acacia for both fermentation and blending.

The winery likes diversity in the blend, he added, including a good portion of sauvignon musque and occasionally a splash of Semillon.

And most of the fruit is estate-certified organic, which anchors the blend each year and gives it consistency.

Chappelle said he was destined to craft sauvignon blanc.

“I grew up with riesling in the refrigerator, due to a German mom from the Mosel (wine region), and the taste of a highly aromatic white wine was something I got exposed to at an early age,” he said. “I got to experience its wonders at the dinner table. And experiencing an early love with almost all foods that pair well with sauvignon blanc made it inevitable I’d find a way to make sauvignon blanc.”

A self-proclaimed “former biotech nerd,” Chappelle, 59, is the head winemaker for Quivira Vineyards and LaFollette Wine owned by Pete and Terri Kight. He studied viticulture and enology in graduate school at UC Davis.

The most challenging part of making sauvignon blanc, the winemaker said, is making sure it’s balanced and layered.

“At Quivira, we’re obsessed with ‘balance’ in all our wines,” Chappelle said. “This is our primary challenge alongside adapting to slightly warmer harvest conditions and the need to start harvest much earlier than (we did) 10-15 years ago.”

An additional challenge, he said, is crafting a product with some complexity.

“Sauvignon blanc’s strong personality and varietal character has a tendency to make ‘one note’ wines if there is not some thought put into it.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the last name of Pete and Terri Kight.

This week’s blind tasting

Quivira, 2020 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.3%, $23, 4.5 stars. This is a New Zealand-style sauvignon blanc, grassy with notes of grapefruit and lime zest. It has racy acidity and pitch-perfect balance and finishes crisp. It’s gorgeous.

J. Cage Cellars, 2020 Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $30, 4 stars. Tropical meet citrus in this sauvignon blanc, with aromas and flavors of Meyer lemon, lime and pineapple. It has great minerality and well-integrated flavors. Smart.

Ladera, 2020 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14%, $36, 4 stars. This is a layered sauvignon blanc with notes of mango, Meyer lemon, anise and honeysuckle. Its charm is that it’s weighted to stone fruit and has great balance. Lovely.

Whitehaven, 2020 Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, 13%, $17, 4 stars. A grassy sauvignon blanc with a citrus quench — grapefruit and lime. With its pungent fruit and racy acidity, it will appeal to those who like the New Zealand style. A steal for the price.

Trione, 2020 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, 13.5%, $25, 3.5 stars. Pretty stone fruit — nectarine and white peach — give this sauvignon blanc its allure. It’s also balanced, with nice length. Solid.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette