Fun and Refreshing Napa White Blend That Begs for an Oyster Pairing

Today’s Story: Matthiasson Family Vineyards

Matthiasson Family Vineyards is a relatively small winery established in 2003 by Steve and Jill Klein Matthiasson. Steve grew up passionate about farming, passing time as a gardener and cook while in college before co-writing the California manual on sustainable vineyard practices in 1999 after graduate school for horticulture. Jill is also passionate for farming, particularly the sustainability side of it, and she studied botany at Penn before ultimately attending UC Davis for grad school studying traditional methods for soil health.

Matthiasson is probably most well-known for their Napa Valley White Wine that I’m reviewing today (an interesting blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Ribolla Gialla, and Tocai Friulano), but they also either grow or source (often by lease) Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc amongst other varieties. Steve and Jill maintain their own vineyard in the West Oak Knoll area, while sourcing from others throughout the Napa Valley and Sonoma County including Red Hen, Bengier, and Linda Vista amongst others. All of the vineyards are either organically farmed or transitioning to organic viticulture, and as you might guess Steve and Jill believe great wine starts in the vineyards. Steve is pretty involved in each vineyard they source fruit from, catering farming practices to each specific one so that no matter the source their fruit is healthy and fully ripe. Coupled with his traditional winemaking methods, the Matthiasson wines come out beautifully balanced with lower levels of alcohol and gorgeous acidity.

I previously wrote about Matthiasson when I reviewed the 2018 Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay back in May, 2020.

Today’s Wine: 2019 White Wine

50% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Ribolla Gialla, 23% Semillon, 2% Tocai Friulano; 12.5% ABV

The 2019 White Wine is pale yellow in color. The aromas are of pronounced intensity and the nose is absolutely gorgeous, showcasing notes of white peach, lemon pith, seashell, flint, raw almond, slight reduction (almost like petrol), wet river stone, and dried straw/hay. Flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate displaying notes of green apple, pineapple, white peach, lime zest, beeswax, wet rock, saline minerality, and mild oaky spice. This dry white blend is medium-bodied with vibrant, high acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. The wine begs for an oyster pairing and the finish leaves one craving the next sip. 893 cases produced.

Price: $40. Though not inexpensive, I believe this wine offers great value solely based on its complexity, balance, and intensity. Then factor in that it’s fun, refreshing, and can age for quite a few years and you’ve got a showstopper.

Crisp and Incredibly Fun Austrian Amber Wine

Today’s Story: Weingut Werlitsch

Weingut Werlitsch is a relatively small family-owned and operated wine estate and farm located in southern Styria in Austria. Viticulture and winemaking are spearheaded by Ewald Tscheppe, who took over this family property at the age of 26. Though the Tscheppe family had been involved in winemaking and farming for generations, Ewald is part of a newer generation making exciting, complex, and long-lived wines while advocating for biodynamic viticulture and minimally invasive winemaking. The estate consists of about 18 hectares (44 acres) with roughly 12.5 hectares (31 acres) planted to vineyards and the balance dedicated to the winery, forests, pastures, and gardens. Weingut Werlitsch is certified biodynamic, and practically all of the vineyard work is done by hand thanks to the very steep slopes that make up the property. The vineyards are planted predominantly to Sauvignon Blanc and Morillon (a biotype of Chardonnay), though Ewald also grows Welschriesling. All fruit is hand-harvested, experiences slow pressing, and goes through fermentation only with native yeasts. Élevage is in large barrels and Austrian foudres, and the wines age typically for a minimum of 18 months but may see as long as 36 months. Bottling is accomplished with the wines unfiltered, and no SO2 is added unless absolutely necessary.

I recently reviewed two other bottlings from Weingut Werlitsch, first the 2017 Glück which is similar in profile to the wine I’m reviewing today and then the 2017 Ex Vero I.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Freude

70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Chardonnay; 12.5% ABV

The 2017 Freude is pale to medium amber in color and slightly hazy. Given some time to warm up from cellar temperature and breathe, this blossoms into a gorgeous and complex wine. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, and the nose showcases aromas of orange marmalade, dried apricot, dried orange peel, honeysuckle, oregano, wet slate, brine, slightly under-baked bread, honey, and toasted almond. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity and the palate displays notes of peach, mandarin orange, dried apricot, marzipan, dill, chamomile, honey, chalk, toasted almond, and unsweetened vanilla yogurt. This dry amber wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish. Absolutely outstanding.

Price: $55. I know this is not an inexpensive bottle, particularly for an amber/orange wine, though I think this offers tremendous value. Not only is this incredibly complex, well-balanced, and of extreme quality, it’s a very fun wine and I prefer this to the Glück I had recently.

Refreshing and Unique Austrian White Field Blend

Today’s Story: Weingut Werlitsch

Weingut Werlitsch is a relatively small family-owned and operated wine estate and farm located in southern Styria in Austria. Viticulture and winemaking are spearheaded by Ewald Tscheppe, who took over this family property at the age of 26. Though the Tscheppe family had been involved in winemaking and farming for generations, Ewald is part of a newer generation making exciting, complex, and long-lived wines while advocating for biodynamic viticulture and minimally invasive winemaking. The estate consists of about 18 hectares (44 acres) with roughly 12.5 hectares (31 acres) planted to vineyards and the balance dedicated to the winery, forests, pastures, and gardens. Weingut Werlitsch is certified biodynamic, and practically all of the vineyard work is done by hand thanks to the very steep slopes that make up the property. The vineyards are planted predominantly to Sauvignon Blanc and Morillon (a biotype of Chardonnay), though Ewald also grows Welschriesling. All fruit is hand-harvested, experiences slow pressing, and goes through fermentation only with native yeasts. Élevage is in large barrels and Austrian foudres, and the wines age typically for a minimum of 18 months but may see as long as 36 months. Bottling is accomplished with the wines unfiltered, and no SO2 is added unless absolutely necessary.

I recently wrote about the 2017 Glück from Werlitsch, which is a fun amber wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Ex Vero I

Field blend of Morillon (Chardonnay) and Sauvignon Blanc; 12.5% ABV

The 2017 Ex Vero I is medium gold in color and transparent but slightly hazy. Per the back label, I gave this a lengthy decant which I found to be optimal around the 2 hour mark. The aromas are of pronounced intensity and the gorgeous nose showcases aromas of yellow apple, white peach, white wildflower, dried garden herbs, popcorn kernel, gravel, and chalk. There’s also a good deal of reduction (gunsmoke, matchstick) and some flint on the nose which plays somewhat of a dominant role. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium intensity, with the palate displaying notes of yellow apple, pear, honeysuckle, seashell, wet stone, dried herbs, and saline mineral. This dry white blend is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish.

Price: $35. Though this is a very different white wine, I feel comfortable calling it a great value. It’s incredibly fun while also maintaining a winning profile of intensity, complexity, length, and balance. Very excited to try this again in a couple years.

Chuggable Austrian Amber Wine

Today’s Story: Weingut Werlitsch

Weingut Werlitsch is a relatively small family-owned and operated wine estate and farm located in southern Styria in Austria. Viticulture and winemaking are spearheaded by Ewald Tscheppe, who took over this family property at the age of 26. Though the Tscheppe family had been involved in winemaking and farming for generations, Ewald is part of a newer generation making exciting, complex, and long-lived wines while advocating for biodynamic viticulture and minimally invasive winemaking. The estate consists of about 18 hectares (44 acres) with roughly 12.5 hectares (31 acres) planted to vineyards and the balance dedicated to the winery, forests, pastures, and gardens. Weingut Werlitsch is certified biodynamic, and practically all of the vineyard work is done by hand thanks to the very steep slopes that make up the property. The vineyards are planted predominantly to Sauvignon Blanc and Morillon (a biotype of Chardonnay), though Ewald also grows Welschriesling. All fruit is hand-harvested, experiences slow pressing, and goes through fermentation only with native yeasts. Élevage is in large barrels and Austrian foudres, and the wines age typically for a minimum of 18 months but may see as long as 36 months. Bottling is accomplished with the wines unfiltered, and no SO2 is added unless absolutely necessary.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Glück

50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Chardonnay; 12.5% ABV

The 2017 Glück is medium amber in color and slightly hazy. I found this better after it warmed from cellar temperature, so I let it sit in the glass for a little while. The aromas are of medium intensity but the nose is rather complex, showcasing aromas of dried apricot, orange peel, bruised apple, yellow wildflower, honey, mild mushroom, grass, chalk, and saline mineral. Flavors are also of medium intensity, and the palate displays notes of mandarin orange peel, apricot, crisp red apple, orange marmalade, honey, dried green herbs, sea salt, and chalky mineral. This dry amber wine is medium-bodied with mouthwatering medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $47. I’m still relatively new into my exploration of amber wines, so I will refrain at this point from discussing an overall “value” perspective. However, this is one of if not the best I’ve had so far, and its quality, complexity, intrigue, and drinkability make it well worth the price for me.

An Elegant Take on Sauvignon Blanc

Today’s Story: Domaine Vincent Pinard

Domaine Vincent Pinard is a family-owned wine estate located in Bué in the heart of the Sancerre region in France’s Loire Valley. Though the estate has been in the Pinard family for generations, the current iteration was established in 1996 and is currently in the hands of brothers Florent and Clémente who took over from their father Vincent. The Pinard family owns 17 hectares (42 acres) of vineyards planted to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, with their portfolio consisting of six Sauvignon Blanc bottlings, three Pinot Noir bottlings, and a rosé made from Pinot Noir. Florent and Clémente practice organic viticulture and are transitioning to biodynamic practices, remaining as natural as possible in the vineyards without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or anti-rot treatments. The vines see rigorous pruning to limit yields, and most of the work in the vineyards is done completely by hand (including harvest). Minimal intervention is also the name of the game in the cellar, where the wines ferment with indigenous yeasts and with no winemaking additions. Depending on vintage and cuvée, Florent and Clémente use a combination of stainless steel and old oak barrels to preserve the variety characteristics and showcase the terroir.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Harmonie Sancerre

100% Sauvignon Blanc; 13% ABV

The 2017 Harmonie is pale yellow in color. With aromas of pronounced intensity, the nose showcases notes of lemon peel, grapefruit, passionfruit, honeysuckle, raw asparagus, freshly cut grass, and wet river stone. Meanwhile flavors are of medium (+) intensity, with the palate displaying notes of honeydew, white peach, fresh pineapple, white floral blossom, limestone, and mild green herbs. This dry white is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $52. I think this is pretty fairly priced given its quality, intensity, and complexity at this stage, however there are better values in the $30-35 range for sure. I’d be curious to see how this develops with another couple years of bottle age, but right now this is a very elegant and precise take on Sauvignon Blanc.

Sancerre Unicorn

Today’s Story: Domaine Edmond Vatan

Domaine Edmond Vatan is a miniscule but highly regarded producer situated in the small town of Chavignol in the Sancerre appellation of France’s Loire Valley. The vineyards consist only of one hectare (2.5 acres) and are planted to the Sauvignon Blanc variety as is required for white wines in the appellation. Vatan’s vines, planted on the steepest slopes with optimal sun exposure, are low-yielding and severely pruned to maximize quality and intensity. Vatan also uses minimal additives/treatments in the vineyards, harvests later than his neighbors, and vinifies the wines adhering to very traditional methods in old oak barrels. The wines are racked only once and then bottled without fining or filtration. Since 2008, Edmond’s daughter Anne took over production following his semi-retirement during the early 2000s, though he is still involved as a guide and teacher. Production is incredibly limited, with about 500 cases total produced each vintage.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Clos La Néore Sancerre

100% Sauvignon Blanc; 14% ABV

The 2017 Clos La Néore is pale yellow in color. This is a baby by preposterous standards, so at this stage it needs several hours to open up. Only by the end of the day did this start opening up, and I wish we had the restraint to hold it into a second day. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, showcasing notes of lemon and lime zest, white peach, freshly cut grass, wet river stone, and saline mineral. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate displaying notes of meyer lemon, tropical citrus, lychee, pineapple, chopped grass, wet slate, and crushed rock mineral. This dry Sauvignon Blanc is medium- to full-bodied with racy high acidity, high alcohol, and a long finish. Very, very good, but just way too young.

Price: $275 (shared by a friend who paid $200). I can’t call this a good value, but I can see what the hype is after this gets several hours of air. This is certainly an excellent representation of the Sauvignon Blanc variety, and one that has the ability to age for decades. But is it a necessary purchase given the price? Probably not.

Napa Sauvignon Blanc That Transports You to Northeast Italy

Today’s Story: Massican Winery

Massican Winery was established in 2009 by winemaker Dan Petroski (also of Larkmead Vineyards) and was born out of his passion for Italy and the country’s lifestyle, culture, and wines. Massican is a very unique endeavor in Napa Valley, focusing exclusively on white grape varieties including Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Bianco, and Greco common in northeastern Italy as well as the more “expected” varieties of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. True to Dan’s mission, the Massican wines are not only made with uncommon varieties for Napa but they are also not the stereotypical oaky white wines the region is known for. Dan uses varying amounts of new and neutral oak as well as stainless steel, also not allowing his wines to go through malolactic fermentation so they maintain the crisp, fresh, and refreshing characteristics of each grape variety. Another contributing factor is how Dan picks his grapes at lower sugar levels, preserving the vibrant acidity and resulting in often lower-alcohol wines.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

100% Sauvignon Blanc; 13.3% ABV

The 2019 Sauvignon Blanc is pale yellow in color and transparent. The nose on this is absolutely gorgeous with pronounced intensity, showcasing aromas of green apple, tropical citrus, tangerine, white peach, lemon peel, white blossom, freshly cut grass, tennis ball canister, wet stone, and saline mineral. Meanwhile the flavors on the palate are also of pronounced intensity, with notes of lemon and lime zest, crisp green apple, sweet pineapple, apricot, lemongrass, mild green herbs, wet slate, white pepper, and brine. This dry white is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish. Blown away by the complexity here.

Price: $27. I know this is more expensive direct from the winery (though they’re sold out anyway), though finding this retail at $27 is a screaming value. The complexity and pronounced characteristics in this wine are truly impressive, and I will certainly be buying more.

Valiant Bordeaux Blanc in a Tough Vintage

Today’s Story: Château Haut-Brion

I recently wrote about Château Haut-Brion when I reviewed the 2014 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion in November, 2020, so if your memory is quite sharp feel free to skip to today’s tasting notes below. If, however, you’d like a refresher you can read on for the history of this great estate.

Château Haut-Brion is a historic Bordeaux wine estate that traces back to at least 1521, and it was awarded First Growth (Premier Grand Cru) status in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. In 1533, Jean de Pontac acquired the land that would become Château Haut-Brion and he immediately set about renovating the vineyards and expanding the estate. He is also the owner who, in 1549, started building the château. Jean de Pontac was instrumental in each vintage under his ownership until he passed away in 1589 at the age of 101, though the estate remained in the Pontac family by passing to his son Arnaud II and then Arnaud II’s nephew Geoffroy. Geoffroy’s son Arnaud III took over during the early 17th century and expanded the château itself while doubling the size of the vineyards. He also used his political influence to extend the fame and reputation of Haut-Brion, particularly in England.

As the influence of Haut-Brion grew, particularly amongst nobility and the intellects of the time (including John Locke), Joseph de Fumel inherited the estate from his father in 1749. The estate’s influence took another leap when, in 1787, Thomas Jefferson visited the château and wrote with great admiration about the soils and wines of Haut-Brion. The rosiness ended during the French Revolution, however, as Joseph de Fumel was beheaded by guillotine and his holdings were divided. Over the next four decades or so, the estate changed hands several times.

In 1836, Joseph Eugène Larrieu purchased the estate and worked tirelessly to improve on the exceptional wines it was known for. His efforts were rewarded when Haut-Brion was awarded Premier Grand Cru status in 1855, though pain struck again through disease and political upheavals within the region in the latter half of the 19th century. In 1859, Amédée took over upon his father’s death and replanted the vineyards over time to deal with mildew. By 1873 when his son Eugène took over Haut-Brion, there was optimism which unfortunately proved futile when phylloxera struck with a vengeance in 1880. Eugène spearheaded a massive replanting of the vineyards yet again, this time using rootstock from North America that was resistant to the disease.

Jumping forward through multiple new ownerships, the Dillon family came into the picture during the early 1900s. The owner at the time, André Gibert, faced the need to find a proper owner for Haut-Brion with no heirs of his own. Clarence Dillon, a banker from New York, visited in 1934 and received notice on his way back to America he could buy the estate. The purchase was finalized in 1935 and the Dillon family remains the owner of Château Haut Brion to this day. This purchase by the Dillon family helped bring Haut-Brion to the modern age, with them first installing electricity, new plumbing, and renovating the cellars. Over the decades that followed leading up to current times, the family continued to improve the estate, modernized the winemaking process with a high tech vat room, and completely renovated the château with utmost attention to detail.

Château Haut-Brion today consists of 51 hectares of vineyards located in the Pessac-Léognan appellation of Bordeaux. Of the 51 hectares, 48 are planted to red varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot while the remaining 3 hectares are planted to white varieties of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Situated across from Château La Mission Haut-Brion (which I wrote about recently as well), Château Haut-Brion shares the same gravelly soil of small quartz stones above a subsoil of clay, sand, and limestone. Following the same practices of their neighbor, all fruit is harvested by hand and then sorted before transferral to temperature controlled vats for fermentation. After two weeks, the vats are drained and the wine moves to barrel where it spends 20-24 months before bottling. Château Haut-Brion produces four wines: Château Haut-Brion, Château Haut-Brion Blanc, and two 2nd wines named Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (red) and La Clarté de Haut-Brion (white).

Today’s Wine: 2012 La Clarté de Haut-Brion

58% Sémillon, 42% Sauvignon Blanc; 14% ABV

The 2012 La Clarté de Haut-Brion is transparent pale gold in color. The medium intense nose showcases aromas of lemon, grapefruit, white peach, yellow apple, honeysuckle, dried herbs, chopped grass, white truffle, and wet stone. On the palate, I get medium intensity and notes of lemon, nectarine, grapefruit, dried pineapple, beeswax, chamomile, river stone, and saline mineral. This dry Bordeaux Blanc is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity and a well-rounded mouthfeel into a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $100 (I paid $89). While not really a great vintage overall for Bordeaux, this was actually a very solid wine and showcases its age beautifully. I think the price I paid is fair given my experience, though I would probably seek out stronger vintages if I’m buying this bottling again.

Outstanding Bordeaux Blanc From a Sauternes Legend

Today’s Story: Château d’Yquem

Château d’Yquem is a very special estate, one whose Sauternes are coveted the world over and whose wines are some of my favorites to have tasted. I previously wrote about the 2001 Château d’Yquem, and am excited to return with their Y (Ygrec) bottling today.

Château d’Yquem has a very long, mysterious history that traces its roots back to the 15th Century. One of the most interesting snippets of this history, for instance, is that the estate belonged to the King of England during the Middle Ages! In 1593, however, southwest France again came under control of the French crown by Charles VII and has remained as such since. It was also this year that the d’Yquem estate came under control of Jacques de Sauvage, a descendant of a local noble family. Though some winegrowing practices and late harvesting existed at this time, the Sauvage family did not start building the château for several more years and then began the long process of assembling land for the current estate plot by plot.

Jumping forward in time, it wasn’t until 1711 that the Sauvage family fully owned the estate under Léon de Sauvage d’Yquem. Furthermore, under the rule of Louis XIV, Château d’Yquem received noble status. The magnificent estate switched hands yet again, however, in 1785 when Françoise Joséphine de Sauvage d’Yquem married Count Louis Amédée de Lur-Saluces, a godson of Louis XV. Sadly, three years later in 1788, the Count died in a riding accident but his widow took over management of the estate and quickly displayed her acumen by sustaining and improving d’Yquem. One of the most notable practices at d’Yquem was established under Françoise Joséphine de Sauvage d’Yquem, for instance, which is picking over several passes (sometimes picking one grape at a time). Another notable feat under this young widow is the admiration noble figures around the globe felt toward d’Yquem, including Thomas Jefferson who reportedly purchased 250 bottles of the 1784 vintage for himself and additional bottles for George Washington.

Romain-Bertrand de Lur-Saluces, a grandson of Françoise Joséphine, took over the estate and helped guide it through seemingly endless successes in the second half of the 19th Century. For example, d’Yquem’s wines became a necessity for the rich and powerful throughout Europe, Russia, and Asia. In 1855, Château d’Yquem was awarded Premier Cru Supérieur in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, the only Sauternes awarded this level. Times changed, however, as they always do with estates of this age when World War I came and the château transitioned into a military hospital under Eugène de Lur-Saluces (a son of Romain-Bertrand). Eugène’s son Marquis Bertrand de Lur-Saluces took over the estate following the war (he had served in the trenches) and he is responsible for much of d’Yquem’s strength to this day. For instance, Marquis Bertrand fought relentlessly to save the estate during the Great Depression, helped determine many legal aspects of the Sauternes appellation as President of the Union des Crus Classés de la Gironde for forty years, and was a leading proponent of château bottling to guarantee authenticity. His death in 1968 changed the tides once again.

Though Bertrand was childless at the time of his death, he took precautions and named his nephew Alexandre de Lur-Saluces manager of Château d’Yquem. Alexandre struggled at first through difficult vintages, a crisis in the Bordeaux wine trade, and an inheritance tax that almost forced the estate to fail, though his efforts were saved with the exceptional 1975 vintage followed by several more during the 1980s. Alexandre managed the estate exceptionally well until 1996 when a family feud exploded over his brother’s decision to sell part of his 47% ownership stake, thus in turn requiring LVMH Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton to step in and purchase 55% of the estate. Though under new ownership, Alexandre remained manager of the estate until his retirement in 2004.

Though I could go on and on about d’Yquem’s terroir, vineyards, and winemaking practices I will leave it here with the history of Château d’Yquem. I encourage you to take a deeper dive on their website here to truly appreciate what goes into a bottle of this sacred juice.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Y (Ygrec) d’Yquem

75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon; 14% ABV

The 2014 Y d’Yquem is transparent pale yellow in color with hues of straw and water white. This absolutely sings out of the bottle, dominated by a nose of white peach, tangerine, apricot, gooseberry, tropical citrus, honeysuckle, freshly cut grass, and beeswax. Meanwhile, on the palate, I get notes of pineapple, grapefruit, peach, lime, cantaloupe, white pepper, white florals, and wet stone. This is medium-bodied with mouthwatering high acidity and a velvety smooth mouthfeel into a long, seductive finish capped off with a touch of caramel (perhaps from the used d’Yquem barrels). Very hard to not gulp this down.

Price: $145. Though very expensive for a white wine, this is a great value in my eyes compared to the top-tier Bordeaux Blancs and other Sauvignon Blancs I’ve tried. This offers incredible depth, opulence, lip-smacking drinkability, and age-ability that is tough to beat.

High Quality Sauvignon Blanc From Coombsville

Today’s Story: Realm Cellars

Realm Cellars is a winery I previously wrote about and will most likely write about again based on my experiences with their wines. You may recall my notes on the 2016 The Bard (one of my earliest posts) or my 2013 The Tempest if you’ve been around since early this year.

Realm was founded in 2002 with a focus on producing high-quality, limited production Bordeaux blend and single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Co-Founder Juan Mercado left his role as a hospital administrator in San Francisco to pursue working in the wine industry and, until recently, Realm sourced their fruit from historical, high-quality vineyards (like Dr. Crane, To Kalon, and Farella) rather than growing their own. Juan runs the winery with Managing Partner Scott Becker, they have an excellent winemaker in Benoit Touquette, and Michel Rolland consults.

One of my favorite aspects of Realm (more a “that’s really cool” kind of thing) is their inspiration from Shakespeare. For example, the title of my blog post on the 2016 The Bard starts the line “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm” from Shakespeare’s Richard II, a line noted on every bottle of Realm wine, on their corks, and highlighted on the label of The Bard. Realm’s Bordeaux blends include The Tempest, named for the violent storm and play thought to be one of Shakespeare’s last; Falstaff, named for the fat, vain, boastful, and cowardly knight present in four of Shakespeare’s plays for comic relief; and of course The Bard, named for Shakespeare himself. Each wine highlights a particular variety, ranging from Merlot to Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon, respectively.

As far as their single vineyard wines go, Realm produces Farella (100% Cabernet Sauvignon), Houyi (100% Cabernet Sauvignon), Beckstoffer Dr. Crane (95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot), Beckstoffer To Kalon (100% Cabernet Sauvignon), Moonracer (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend), and a white wine called Fidelio (Sauvignon Blanc). As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, recently Realm started producing wine from their own fruit which is where Moonracer comes in. This wine comes from their vineyard on Wappo Hill in the Stags Leap District and is named for the Wappo Native Americans who were known for bravery, strength, and athleticism. The Wappos often took part in (and are said to have won most) inter-tribal races during a full moon, hence the name Moonracer.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Fidelio Sauvignon Blanc

100% Sauvignon Blanc; 14.1% ABV

The 2019 Fidelio is transparent pale to medium straw yellow in color with greenish hues near the rim of the glass. This is a gorgeous wine, with aromas of tangerine, lime, white peach, pineapple, freshly cut grass, saline mineral, and hazelnut leaping from the glass. Upon tasting, the wine showcases notes of grapefruit, peach, lemon zest, mango, tropical citrus, crushed rock minerality, cream, and slight spice all wrapped up into a plush and sexy mouthfeel. This Sauvignon Blanc is medium-bodied with vibrant, mouthwatering acidity into a long, tantalizing finish.

Price: $70. While very hard for me to call this a good “value” wine because it is a very expensive California Sauvignon Blanc, I do think the price is justified here. This seems to be a wine Realm put a lot of thought and effort into (after consulting Andy Erickson on vineyard selection) and it shows. I would put this up there with some of my favorite California Sauvignon Blancs in a heartbeat.