2021 Sauvignon Blanc
Time flies when you’re having fun.
It’s difficult for me to fathom that I’ve been making wine from Sauvignon Blanc grapes for 15 years. Never once in my formative years on the farm had I ever thought, “Sauvignon Blanc, that’s the ticket!”
I give all the credit to the brain trust at Creekside Estate Winery, circa 1998. Whether it was Peter, Marcus, Rob or Craig (or likely a combo of the four) who convinced my parents to plant this notoriously winter sensitive and vigorously growing varietal, I am the ultimate beneficiary.
It has been a pleasure to see those vines flourish and mature over the years, despite the odd re-trunking winter disaster (2004, 2014). Tending to two distinct blocks of Sauvignon Blanc (heavy clay vs. sand/loam/clay) has illustrated to me just how sensitive these vines can be to specific vineyard conditions. As the vines have aged, I’ve noticed that they tend to handle extreme stress situations better than they used to. The varied nutritional and canopy management needs of the two blocks took a while to ascertain, but I feel like we’ve gotten enough reps now to be confident in our practices.
Consequently, making the wine from this fruit is no longer as stressful as it used to be. The consistency of the vineyard has a lot to do with that. I have developed trust that my fermentations will produce those familiar aromatics that fill the barn with tropical delights, and that time spent in my treasured French oak barrels will enhance the structure and flavour profile.
The real decision is when to integrate new barrels into the portfolio. I’ve always opted to ferment and age about 80% of our Sauv Blanc in very neutral, 10-12-year-old barrels. Eventually those barrels need to be replaced, so I try to do so with something gentle that will complement the overall blend. In 2021, that newbie was a DAMY barrel with a special “Light-Long ++ Toast” that aims to “soften the initial presence of the oak and elevate the integration and harmony between the fruit, oak and toast.” Coopers have a way of making these things sound romantic that I will always be a sucker for.
The 2021 Sauvignon Blanc was harvested on September 13th. The fruit was pressed and racked to nine barrels and one tank. Fermentations were carried out with X5 yeast at about 8-9 degrees C. After 30 days, the vessels had reached my desired specific gravity level of 0.998. The barrel potion went through partial malolactic fermentation prior to bentonite fining and filtration. 248 cases were bottled on April 25th, 2022.
Collectors of Five Rows SB will likely note that this vintage falls somewhere between 2019 and 2020, stylistically speaking. In a way, you get the best of both worlds – the tropical ripeness of 2020 and the lively vein of natural acidity found in the 2019. Aromas and flavours include lemon, lime, gooseberry, melon and vanilla.