Hartwell Vineyards2005 Sauvignon Blanc, Estate
This is another in the growing list of excellent Sauvignon Blancs emerging now from the Napa Valley. Put Cabernet Sauvignon aside for the nonce, and with wines such as this from Hartwell, the Napa Valley must be taken seriously – along with New Zealand and the Loire – as one of the world’s great Sauvignon-producing regions.
While this wine shows New Zealand-like typicity – grassiness, gooseberry – in the nose, on the palate it’s decidedly Napa Valley. While the acidity here is perfect, the sweet, bright fruit flavors can only come from the warmer Napa Valley climate. Another plus: The wine has the potential to age for a half-dozen or more years. I loved it.
The fruit is the first harvest from Hartwell’s four-acre vineyard that sits in the netherworld at the southern tip of the Napa Valley not far from the region’s airport. It’s a mostly industrial area containing a lot of the wine industry’s collateral businesses, but there are some good vineyards being planted there now as parcels for growing grapes become scarce and murderously expensive.
Only 25 percent of the wine was fermented in French oak and of that, a quarter was new. The remainder was fermented in stainless. The juice was aged on the lees for nine months. Hardly any malolactic fermentation was employed. The listed alcohol is a high 14.8 percent – but hardly discernible. Only 835 cases were produced.
Reviewed October 4, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.
Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.