This wine was inspired by my time in Bordeaux with focus on Châteaux that I was able to spend time at like Hault-Brion, Smith Haut Lafitte, and Domaine de Chevalier. I already had a love affair with the Red’s of Bordeaux with little expectations for their whites until I worked there. This is when my view on Sauvignon Blanc changed and I was determined to make a Sauvignon Blanc in my home of Sonoma County that could showcase what I learned. While the fruit is 100% estate grown Sauvignon Blanc, I decided not to label it such because of the significant Bordeaux influence that I believe is more comparable.
I even went as far to have specific barrels sent over from Bordeaux that were made particularly for Hault-Brion Blanc. I studied at Hault-Brion’s own cooperage to see them make these barrels and ultimately knew I had to ship some over from Bordeaux for this wine. These French Oak barrels that have acacia barrel heads with a very particular toast represent 10% of the oak in this wine with another 40% being new Francois Freres medium and light toast as well as 50% once used French oak.
This approach combined with the Dry Stack fruit that Robert Parker Jr. calls, “one of California’s finest examples of this Italian clone of Sauvignon Blanc that is planted in these gravelly, loamy soils" has already produced an extremely rare honor from Wine Enthusiast that issued a 93 rating for our inaugural vintage.
This is a very special wine that can be enjoyed now or cellared.
— Jesse Katz Partner/Winemaker
The incredible richness of this wine is not like any new world aromatic white you have ever had. The inaugural vintage of the 2016 Aesthete has aromas bursting from the glass of fresh white peaches, honeydew melon and fresh cut flowers.
There is a texture that builds in this wine creating a richness that is quickly lightened by its bright natural acidity. On the palate there is a mixture of caramelized peaches, kiwi and stone fruit with a long fresh finish.
2016 Dry Stack Vintage
2016 is one of the most exciting vintages that I have been able to capture in bottle yet. With little rain from the 2015 winter the vines woke up very early as they did in 2015. But 2016 had a very even ripening season with cooler than average highs during the day and our classic cool nights that lengthened the season compared to 2015.
We also had an incredibly cool end of August going into September that helped separate the early varietals from the later ones and increased hang time for the later sites. This included Dry Stack Vineyard which is in very cool Bennett Valley. It allowed the acids, flavors and sugars to realign and become more in balance. We had three weeks in a row where the sugar did not move and acids stayed high but the flavors and textures started to shine. This is a winemaker's dream vintage with moderate crop.
The fruit was hand harvested and brought in on a cool morning on September 29th close to a month after any other Sauvignon Blanc due to the cool site and coastal influence. We lightly whole cluster pressed to a jacketed stainless steel tank where we let the wines chill at 50° F for two days to settle. On the third day we clean racked it to a smaller tank leaving the heavy sediment behind. The fermentation started naturally three days later and we kept the fermentation below 56° F until half-way through fermentation.
At 12 Brix we moved all of the wine to barrel evenly into 50% once used French Oak Barrels and 50% New French Oak and put it in our cold room to keep the fermentation cool and slow to keep freshness and aromatics bright. The wine fermented for a month longer as we topped and stirred weekly. We kept the wine in those same barrels for ten months, topping and stirring monthly after primary fermentation was complete and stopped Malolactic fermentation to keep the natural bright acidity.
Bottled unfiltered and unacidified.
The vineyard rests 550 feet above sea level on the eastern slope of Mt. Taylor. The soils are a marine clay loam with many small-to-medium sized stones throughout the profile, helping drainage and soil texture. Robert Parker Jr. says, “Dry Stack Vineyard in Bennett Valley is one of California’s finest examples of this Italian clone of Sauvignon Blanc that is planted in these gravelly, loamy soils.