For most of us, the arrival of spring allocations is as heartening as the first magnolia blossoms, but this year, well, it’s been a little different. As we disinfect boxes, wipe down bottles, and wait for California facilities to re-open, a taste of one of those precious new bottles is a real treat.
Meet the Rochioli Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2019.
Sixty-four percent of the juice here comes from the original Sauvignon Blanc vineyard planted in 1959, 21 percent is from the house’s newest planting (2001) of the rare clone 376, and 14 percent is from a hillside vineyard planted in 1985. The wine is tank fermented at a cool temperature to preserve its intense varietal character and firm acidity. This is an intense and full-bodied wine.
Based in Sonoma, Rochioli Vineyards is sometimes considered a California cult producer and still sells most of their inventory via allocation. While they’re known for their high quality (and high priced) pinot noirs, their accessible summer estate whites—the Estate Sauvignon Blanc and the Estate Chardonnay—have been two of my “house wine” staples for the past several years. The prices have been climbing considerably but the quality is always there.
Good winemakers make good wine in good years, but great winemakers make good wine every year. While Rochioli’s chardonnays and pinot noirs are consistently great, the sauvignon blanc can sometimes be a bit uneven. Even with the vintage variations, though, I buy this white every year knowing that some vintages will be spectacular for pre-dinner patio drinking while others will pair better with dinner.
The 2019 vintage is the best of both worlds. Crisp with depth like a good Sancerre, this sauvignon blanc gives us lemon zest with some green apple but not the passion fruit that too many people have come to expect from sauvignon blanc. Fresh with a tart, clean finish, this wine is no lightweight and typical of a high quality California sauvignon blanc—well worth the higher prices it commands these days.