Complex and Fun Experimental White Blend

Today’s Story: Ovid Napa Valley

Ovid Napa Valley is a “cult” winery established in 2000 by husband and wife Mark Nelson and Dana Johnson, and 2005 was their inaugural vintage. Situated at 1,400 feet elevation on secluded Pritchard Hill, Ovid consists of a 15 acre vineyard planted largely to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, though it includes plots of Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Syrah as well. Ovid practices organic viticulture and the vineyard is broken into one-acre blocks with various rootstocks and clones to allow for an experimental philosophy of winemaking. They recently cleared more acreage to expand their vineyard holdings as well. Winemaker Austin Peterson has been with Ovid since 2006, and he enjoys utilizing both traditional and cutting edge winemaking techniques to produce wines with a sense of place. The Ovid winery utilizes gravity flow to minimize handling of the wines, and fermentation is accomplished using native and non-native yeasts before the wines age and transfer to bottle unfined and unfiltered.

Ovid remains steadfast in their support of sustainable practices in the vineyards and the winery, keeping bees, using cover crops, and utilizing their own compost to avoid inhibiting natural biodiversity. They also placed owl boxes, bluebird boxes, and an insectary garden on the property to facilitate a more natural form of pest control. Ovid even maintains a fruit and nut orchard where they grow cherries, plums, pluots, peaches, pomegranates, and persimmons which are then allocated to Napa restaurants including The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood (which unfortunately burned down in 2020). The winery itself is powered by solar energy and built of wood, stone, and concrete which blends effortlessly into the mountainous surroundings.

In terms of production, Ovid crafts four main wines which include their signature Ovid Napa Valley (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant), Hexameter (Cabernet Franc dominant), Loc. Cit. (100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the best plots only in the best vintages), and Syrah. As special as the main Ovid wines are, they also release highly limited quantities of Experiment bottlings which change vintage to vintage to showcase the unique blends, varieties, winemaking styles, and terroir Peterson has to play with. Total production is said to be between 1,000 and 1,200 cases per vintage, with roughly 85% of that going direct to customers on the membership list.

To learn more about Ovid and their wines, view pictures of the beautiful winery, or find the source for much of today’s information above, visit the Ovid website here. I also previously wrote about Ovid when I reviewed the 2015 Hexameter.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Experiment No. W3.6

36.27% Sauvignon Blanc, 20.82% Grenache Blanc, 19.28% Albariño, 9.26% Viognier, 7.86% Roussanne, 6.51% Vermentino; 14.3% ABV

The 2016 Experiment No. W3.6 is pale yellow in color. Its aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of lemon zest, honeydew melon, Asian pear, mango, lemongrass, white lily, wet stone, and a touch of wax. The flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, and the palate offers up notes of yellow apple, pear, lemon and lime zest, mango, grapefruit, honeysuckle, grass, beeswax, and stony mineral. This dry white blend is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. This is a very good and fun wine.

Price: $110. Pricing here is a bit high in terms of value perspective, as this is very expensive for a Napa Valley white wine. Nonetheless, I love these Ovid Experiment bottlings as they show a fun side of winemaking while this one is complex, well-balanced, and downright quaffable. I think rarity of these wines plays an effect on the price but if you have the chance to try one I wouldn’t turn it down.

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