Sauvignon Blanc Release
Welcome to Harvest 2021!
We had a long, mostly cool growing season, surprising as it may seem. The crazy temperatures seen in northern, eastern and southern California (and Oregon and Washington and Montana!) throughout August did not arrive here in the Santa Ynez Valley. We knocked on wood for months convinced that we had some of the best weather in the entire West, but not wanting to jinx ourselves. In fact, even in Happy Canyon, August was downright mild, with foggy mornings, abundant sunshine and heat up to the mid 90’s and then cooling winds. Mornings were generally in the 40’s, giving us the classic Santa Ynez Valley diurnal swing of 40 and up to 50 degrees. Our friend the mighty Pacific had again helped deliver a splendid growing season for Sauvignon Blanc.
The grapes slowly made their way to maturity. We had avoided the seriously crazy heat spikes (115 degrees!) of 2020. On the last day of August, we began picking Sauvignon Blanc out in Happy Canyon. Over Labor Day weekend (shocker!) we had some more intense heat (up to 102) and thus we jumped into the Sauvignon Blanc in earnest, largely finishing by September 9. The sugars were bumped slightly by the heat, but the solid acids were still intact. Yields were generally very good, and we are very much looking forward to making this juice into wine over the coming weeks.
Next up will be Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills. As most of you know by now, the east-west valley turns much cooler as you get closer to Lompoc, where it is often foggy all day long. The temperatures here rarely crest 80, giving an exceptionally long season for Pinot Noir. The rule has held true so far in 2021. The esteemed Fiddlestix Vineyard was again the first Pinot Noir pick in the week after Labor Day, with some other sites not too far behind. The Pinot Noirs so far show tremendous flavors at modest sugars, and they seemingly have excellent acids. We think these first lots will be great with some significant whole cluster fermentation…More on that later, but all this talk of grapes has made us thirsty.
New Release of Highly Acclaimed Sauvignon Blancs
In order to celebrate picking though the 2021 Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and in keeping with the warm sunny weather, we thought it an opportune time to release the new Sauvignon Blancs to the world. These include the three single vineyard Sauvignon Blancs from the fabulous 2019 vintage and the new Happy Canyon blend from the miracle vintage of 2020. The crop was small in 2019, and these were made in small quantities, with most reserved for the Wine Club. Small quantities and fantastic reviews suggest these wines will not last long.
As most of you know, Sauvignon Blanc is one of the great wine grapes of the world, as noble as they come. Properly farmed for quality it can produce astounding wines. We think this release contains some of our best ever from this fantastic grape.
2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon
This is our appellation blend Sauvignon Blanc, though that moniker barely tells the story. This wine is sourced from spectacular vineyards, each of which creates single vineyard wines that are among the best in California, if not the world. We chose lots from each of these vineyards that have a more energetic, taut and lively character, and age these wines for 8 months on the lees in a mixture of 88% used oak and 12% stainless steel. The wine performs well in providing energy and complex flavor, a point made well by Jeb Dunnuck in his yearly reviews (August 2021). The 2020 Happy Canyon received 90 points, and Jeb had this to say about the wine:
A classic, age-worthy Sauvignon well worth seeking out, the 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Happy Canyon from Dragonette offers up a light gold hue as well as a beautiful, Bordeaux Blanc-like array of lemon curd, crushed citrus, white flowers, and chalky minerality. Drink this balanced, elegant, juicy, and just pretty and lively Sauvignon over the coming 4-5 years.
The 2020 vintage was very low yielding and we made less of this wine than usual. As in 40% less. Limited, and a great wine for the rest of the summer and next summer and the summer after that. Enjoy!
2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Grassini Family Vineyard
** Wine Club Wine, Fall 2020
2019 marks the twelfth vintage we have worked with Grassini fruit. We buy this fruit by the acre, allowing us to employ our own vineyard management techniques. Over the years we have honed those techniques, and we are happier than ever with the way the vineyard has performed.
The 2019 wine was fermented and aged in French oak barrels (228L) and Cigars (300L), 10% of which were new. The wine was aged on its lees for 16 months before bottling. The wine shows its usual kaleidoscopic aromas and flavors, with nice lift from vibrant, yet round and lip-smacking acidity.
Jeb Dunnuck had this to say, and while we love the “96 points” he gave the wine, we prefer the language he used, to wit:
“I’d wager one of the finest examples of this variety in California, the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Grassini Family Vineyard reveals a lighter gold hue as well as a brilliant array of crushed citrus, lime, fresh fig, green almonds, and crushed rock-like minerality. Based on 100% Sauvignon Blanc that was barrel fermented and aged in just 10% new French oak, it hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, a concentrated, vibrant mouthfeel, bright and integrated acidity, and great finish. This puppy will keep for two decades.
Very little of this wine will be left after the wine club, so act fast.
2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Grimm’s Bluff Vineyard
From its inception, Grimm’s Bluff has been painstakingly and biodynamically farmed for top quality grapes, yields be damned. The vineyard produces extremely low yielding, highly concentrated fruit, and we selected three separate blocks (head trained clone 1, VSP clone 1 and VSP musque clone) for this wine, which is aged exclusively in French oak barrels and Cigars, a portion of which is new (light long toast). Here the wood frames the wine, stretching it and lengthening it so that the finish lasts minutes.
In 2019, we aged the wine for 15 months on its lees in French oak of various shapes and sizes (30% new). The resulting wine is comprised of 82% clone 1 and 18% musque clone. As is typical, this wine is simply packed with flavor and texture; it is more of a gymnast than of a defensive lineman. The wine is tightly coiled and ready to burst onto the palate like Simone Biles exploding into one of her namesake vaults. Loaded with minerals, melons and stone fruits, the wine sticks to the palate and finishes long and intense. It should age for a long time.
Jeb Dunnuck gave it 93 points and said,
“The 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Grimm’s Bluff Vineyard offers a similar Bordeaux Blanc-like array of pineapple, lemon curd, and crushed stone as well as terrific minerality, medium body, bright acidity, and a great finish…it is beautiful, elegant, and balanced, and will keep for two decades as well.”
This wine is extremely limited, only 150 cases were produced.
2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Vogelzang Vineyard **Wine Club Wine: Winter 2022
Vogelzang is one of the most celebrated Sauvignon Blanc sites in California. We have leased several acres here since 2009, and our long experience here has paid off, as our farming strategies produce singular wines here.
In 2019 the grapes were fermented in 100% French oak barrels and cigars (20% new) and aged for 17 months on the lees before bottling. The resulting wine shows classic Vogelzang character of powerful stone fruit, mango and pineapple flavors, with great concentration and texture, but with a laser like spine of acidity and mineral character. The 2019 will drink well upon release, but should age for 12-18 years on its great underlying material. Drink 2022-2033+.
Jeb Dunnuck gave the wine 97 points, which really is unheard of for Sauvignon Blanc. He said:
“The 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Vogelzang Vineyard …just blew me away. More subtle and reserved, its thrilling notes of crushed limes, lemons, sappy flowers, and minerality give way to a medium to full-bodied, deep, layered, multi-dimensional Sauvignon Blanc with tremendous mid-palate depth, bright acidity, and laser-like precision. You could put this in a blind lineup of top Bordeaux Blanc and it would stand toe to toe. Hats off to the team at Dragonette for a commitment to fashioning incredible, age-worthy Sauvignon Blanc that’s as good as anything out there!”
Extremely Limited. Only 260 cases produced, the large majority of which will go straight to the Wine Club in February. Act fast, this is always a favorite.
We look forward to seeing you soon at either the Tasting Room or the Study in Los Olivos, or at the Winery in Buellton. Harvest is a wonderful time to visit, as the collective excitement seems to permeate the area. Try the Winery Tasting Option and get a look at the team in action…
John, Steve, Brandon and the entire Dragonette Cellars team