On a recent trip to Napa Valley, I got a chance to see Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc coming in on it’s last day of harvest. The workers begin picking late at night or very early in the morning. They are done by dawn.
Night harvest catches the fruit when it is cold. The flavors are fresher than they would be later in the day. That’s key for grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, which is very much about acidity and lively fruit.
Starting with cold fruit also helps keep fermentation temperatures down. Fermentation generates a lot of heat. And, because there’s such a large volume in the fermentation tanks, getting juice cool enough for a gentle, prolonged fermentation that preserves fruity and floral notes is a challenge if the fruit starts out warm.
Flavors change radically as the fruit transitions from grape, to juice, to wine-in-progress, to finished product. Plucked from the harvest bin, these Sauvignon Blanc grapes were crisp and fruity with lively acidity and a hints of flavors to come: citrus and peach. They are simple, but delicious.
As fermentation begins, even that level of complexity is temporarily lost. Intially, the fermenting juice tastes exactly like green apple cider. Gradually, as the process continues, primary flavors reappear. Eventually the fermentation unlocks other flavors too, ones never present in the grapes themselves.
Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc is aged on the lees, but in stainless steel barrels. The lees contact adds complexity, texture and roundness. Using stainless rather than oak prevents oxidation, maintaining those fresh aromas and flavors, and avoids cloaking the fruit with oak-derived notes. Ehlers Estate also inhibits malolactic fermentation, preserving tart freshness.
2015 Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc St. Helena Napa Valley 91 13.2% 750ml $28
Ehlers Estate makes their Sauvignon Blanc in a pure, flavorful and lively style. It’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc, mostly clone SB1. Alcohol content is very moderate. This is a refreshing and very food-friendly wine.
It smells of peach, tangerine pith, peach blossom and lemon. The palate has medium body and is very juicy with slight texture. Flavors are intense, but not overly fruity: mineral, lemon pith and peach pit.
You may also enjoy my recent review of Ehlers Estate Merlot.
Copyright Fred Swan 2016. All rights reserved.