Long recognized as a innovator in vineyard management and a champion of sustainable agriculture, Steve Matthiasson and his wife Jill began making their own wine in 2003. They are now known for making award-winning Napa wines that are decidedly non-Napa like. They aim for a fresh, low alcohol, elegant style more often associated with France or Italy and using varietals seldom found in the U.S. This white blend is roughly 50 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 25 percent Ribolla Gialla, 20 percent Semillon, and 5 percent Friulano. (Ribolla Gialla and Friulano form the backbone of the racy, expressive white wines of italy’s Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region.)
Intensely aromatic, tropical notes characteristic of California Sauvignon Blanc are prominent but set off by a powerful whiff of sea shells on the shore when the tide is out. Hazelnut is a background note. Round with some viscosity in the mouth, the long expressive midpalate redolent of lemon and peach gives way to a tart, orange peel and saline finish. The hint of salt sits on palate for several minutes if not interrupted.
The distinctive wine takes you on a journey from exotic and untamed to severe and exquisitely disciplined. The offbeat, vaguely tropical, subtle mood shifting of Bachianias Brasilieras #5 by Wayne Shorter is a good match for this mercurial wine.
Technical Notes: All varietals were co-fermented in 20% new Boutes barrels, aged on the lees (no stirring) for 10 months.
Price: $43 (Purchase Here)
Crisp, refreshing and uniquely spicy and mineral-driven, this blends 50% Sauvignon blanc, 25% Ribolla Gialla, 20% Sémillon and 5% Tocai Friulano—all unusual varieties in the Napa Valley. Light, bright and fleshy, it tastes of lemon, mango and the sea.
The first thing that jumps out on the nose is pine sap followed by starfruit, under ripe honeydew, apple skin and white flowers with wet flinty gravel, fresh straw, hand cream, licorice and allspice. In the mouth white peach, sweet lemon curd and quince with toasted almond, bee’s wax, and oyster liquor from the shell. Juicy finish of orange pulp and cherry stone. Brisk acid and round creamy body a bit at odds.
The Sauvignon blanc brings a clean fresh citrusy acidity and some tropical character. The
Ribolla gialla brings seashell minerality, n
uttiness, and structure to the blend. The Semillon
contributes viscosity and
waxiness that adds gravity and weight. The
Tocai friulano adds spicy
aromatic notes. The acidity and fruit expression is balanced by a rich lees character and a
faint backdrop of
oak. There is interplay in the wine between lightness and richness,
and focus and complexity.
Flavors include the trademark white peach, kafir lime, lychee
nut, beeswax, ripe fig, and pineapple, but with much more prominent stones, oyster shells,
and freshly baled straw.
All four varieties were co
new Boutes barrels, and
on its lees, with
no stirring, until bottling (often we stir a bit to
help the wine flesh out, but this vintage didn’t need any more weight
To preserve all of the acidity the wine was prevented from going through
months of barrel aging, the wine was filtered to prevent
further malolactic fermentation, and then bottled