Wine of the Week: Quivira 2017 Fig Tree Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc

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This week’s blind tasting

Sauvignon blancs

TOP PICK

Quivira Vineyards

2017 Fig Tree Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5% alcohol, $24. ★★★★

Tropical meets grassy in this sauvignon blanc, and it will no doubt turn heads. It’s floral, with layered flavors of grapefruit and savory notes on the palate. While complex, it’s still light on its feet, buoyed by bright acid. Spot on.

Tasty ALTERNATIVES

Spottswoode, 2018 Napa County/Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 14.1%, $45. ★★★★: This balanced sauvignon blanc has a lovely range of flavors — Meyer lemon, guava and mineral. Bright acid. Finishes crisp.

Rombauer Vineyards, 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $24. ★★★★: This vibrant sauvignon blanc is refreshing and balanced. Tropical and citrus flavors marry well on the palate. Notes of grapefruit, mango and white nectarine. Nice length. Smart.

Groth, 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $24. ★★★★: A rich, creamy sauvignon blanc, kept in check with bright citrus notes of grapefruit, lemon and a hint of lime. A tasty, albeit slightly weightier version of sauvignon blanc.

Rutherford Ranch, 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 13%, $23. ★★★★: A tasty sauvignon blanc with pretty aromas and flavors. Notes of guava, grapefruit and lime. With its layered notes and crisp acid, it’s interesting and refreshing.

Is there such a thing as a world citizen wine? A bottling that combines the best of winemaking on both sides of the pond?

Oui. Si. Yes.

While Quivira Vineyards in Healdsburg is intent on expressing its estate vineyards, it crafts its wines with a global sensibility.

“Our motto here is: ‘One Foot Old World, One Foot New World,’ ” said Hugh Chappelle.

The winemaker is behind our wine-of-the-week winner — the Quivira Vineyards 2017 Fig Tree Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc at $24.

Tropical meets grassy in this sauvignon blanc, and it will no doubt turn heads. It’s floral, with layered flavors of grapefruit and savory notes on the palate. While complex, it’s still light on its feet, buoyed by bright acid. It’s spot on.

“We’re shooting for a wine with bright, fresh, pure aromatics and vibrant, refreshing acidity,” Chappelle said. “In essence, our Fig Tree bottling is an aroma- and acid-driven wine.”

The winemaker said what makes this sauvignon blanc a standout is the site — the Fig Tree Vineyard.

“It’s situated in one of the coolest areas of Dry Creek Valley that’s perfect for sauvignon blanc,” Chappelle said. “Our Fig Tree bottling also always has 20% to 30% Musque clone for aromatics and overall wine balance, and this has become a unique signature element of this wine.”

Bringing the best out in a wine begins in the vineyard, Chappelle said.

“For winemaking, how we manage the pick decisions really sets the stage for final quality,” he said. “We want to balance the wine as much as possible in how we pick, which has resulted in a strategy we employ of picking across a range of maturity, as opposed to just one ‘supposed’ perfect point.”

What the uninitiated don’t know, Chappelle said, is that as long as sauvignon blanc hails from the right site, and it’s balanced, it can age.

“This typically means a more reductive winemaking regimen and often ‘not’ rushing in to bottle just a few months from harvest, which seems to be increasingly common with New World sauvignon blancs,” he said. “At Quivira, our 2012 Fig Tree bottling is still drinking fantastic, and our 2015 is often mistaken for the current vintage when poured blind.”

Chappelle, 57, joined Quivira as a winegrower in 2010. His credits include a stint at Lynmar Estate and before that, Flowers Vineyards & Winery.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chappelle grew up with more of an appreciation of wine and food than many of his fellow winemakers. His mother was from the Mosel region in Germany and made wine part of daily life.

It was Quivira’s sauvignon blanc that initially piqued Chappelle’s interest in working at the winery.

“I have been a fan of Quivira’s sauvignon blancs since first exposed to them back in 1992,” he said. “What I bring to bear on how we approach crafting sauvignon blanc is a true passion for the variety. I bring almost 30 years of critically tasting the top sauvignon blancs of the world and a clear vision of what we want to end up with in the bottle.”

Chappelle’s first exposure to the best sauvignon blancs from France’s Loire Valley was back in the early 1990s, while he was studying enology at UC Davis.

“That was really the tipping point,” he said. “Specifically the bottlings of Didier Dagueneau and the Cotat family, who both showed how truly great sauvignon blanc could be as a single varietal wine in the right terroir.”

You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This week’s blind tasting

Sauvignon blancs

TOP PICK

Quivira Vineyards

2017 Fig Tree Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5% alcohol, $24. ★★★★

Tropical meets grassy in this sauvignon blanc, and it will no doubt turn heads. It’s floral, with layered flavors of grapefruit and savory notes on the palate. While complex, it’s still light on its feet, buoyed by bright acid. Spot on.

Tasty ALTERNATIVES

Spottswoode, 2018 Napa County/Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 14.1%, $45. ★★★★: This balanced sauvignon blanc has a lovely range of flavors — Meyer lemon, guava and mineral. Bright acid. Finishes crisp.

Rombauer Vineyards, 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $24. ★★★★: This vibrant sauvignon blanc is refreshing and balanced. Tropical and citrus flavors marry well on the palate. Notes of grapefruit, mango and white nectarine. Nice length. Smart.

Groth, 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.2%, $24. ★★★★: A rich, creamy sauvignon blanc, kept in check with bright citrus notes of grapefruit, lemon and a hint of lime. A tasty, albeit slightly weightier version of sauvignon blanc.

Rutherford Ranch, 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 13%, $23. ★★★★: A tasty sauvignon blanc with pretty aromas and flavors. Notes of guava, grapefruit and lime. With its layered notes and crisp acid, it’s interesting and refreshing.

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