I always appreciate tasting a balanced Sauvignon Blanc. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of the incredibly steely, tart Sauvignon Blancs that make your mouth pucker; but then again, I also don't lean towards the riper, richer, possibly oaked or malolactic-influenced Sauvignon Blancs either. What I appreciate most is a well-balanced Sauvignon Blanc that hits your palate on all levels—offering nice juxtaposition between freshness, crisp textures and acidity, offset by a round mouthfeel with well-ripened (but not too ripe) fruit; a touch of barrel fermentation, in small doses, can bring a lot of complexity. This is exactly what you get with Clos Pegase's 2015 Mitsuko's Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc made from Carneros appellation grapes.
You likely associate the Carneros appellation with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as sparkling wines made from those varieties, because that is the bulk of the vineyard plantings in Carneros. As it turns out, there are several other grapes planted in Carneros that yield lovely expressions of their varieties. One such variety is Sauvignon Blanc. This is a versatile grape that is grown in a variety of terroirs across the state of California and around the world. In Carneros, Sauvignon Blanc finds a comfortable home in the cool climate that is influenced by the San Pablo Bay. Its moderate daytime temperature with ample sunshine, as well as morning and evening fog, make an ideal climate to ripen white grape varieties while still maintaining their crisp, acid-driven profiles. The hillsides here are gentle, with variation between sea level and around 700 feet, and the soils are dominated by clay with more loam and alluvials in the northern parts of the appellation.
The Mitsuko Vineyard, purchased by Clos Pegase in 1989, saw a very early start to the growing season in 2015—just like all of the other Napa Valley appellations, as well as winegrowing regions across the state. Bud break and bloom were well ahead of years prior, but significant coolness and wind during bloom produced fewer berries on the vines. Crops were small across the vineyard (and across the state, as well), but the warm and dry ripening period helped produce high quality grapes. Because of the drought-like conditions in California, vigor was controlled and berry size was small, which makes for a good combination of intensely concentrated and flavorful grapes.
Clos Pegase's 2015 Mitsuko's Vineyard Sauvignon has just a touch of grass on the nose, with grapefruit and lime aromas intermixed with purple flowers and minerals. I was particularly impressed with the way this Sauvignon Blanc felt in the mouth, with its round texture that playfully surrounded the effervescence and energy of the varietal. Barrel fermented and then aged for five months in neutral French oak, with additional tank aging on lees, this Sauvignon Blanc finds just the right balance between freshness and richness on the palate. Zesty lemon, grapefruit and melon fruit abound, with an almost spice-driven nuance on the finish. This refreshing Sauvignon Blanc is tasty enough to enjoy on its own, but would also make an excellent accompaniment for seafood with lemon-based sauces.
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