The Global Masters Wine of the Week: Stonestreet Sonoma Sauvignon
Every week, we select a wine that picked up either a Gold or Master from our competition series, and tell you why the judges loved it. Enter the Global Masters, and this could be your wine.
We may be going back a bit into the Global Masters archives, but please be forgiving, we want to celebrate a brilliant wine that’s distinctly Californian as we slip into September, which is ‘California Wine Month’.
This wine hails from a tasting held in 2015, where it took the position as the outstanding sample of the day, becoming the only entry to gain the title of Master: the ultimate accolade for the very best examples of their type.
The competition was for Sauvignon Blanc, and the wine was from Stonestreet Estate Vineyards in Sonoma, a property spread across the Mayacamas Mountains on California’s north coast, and one that’s best known for its seductive and refreshing results with Chardonnay as well as Cabernet.
But, as we discovered that day, this estate, with vineyards at around 300 metres above sea level, also produces first-rate Sauvignon Blanc in a similar mould to its other wines, and by that, I mean a style that is rich, but also bright.
Indeed, this particular wine, a top-end, barrel-fermented Sauvignon, is more like a great white Bordeaux from Graves, with peach, passion fruit, and a touch of cleansing pink grapefruit, complemented by a lovely creamy taste and texture, along with a hint of vanilla.
Think of a freshly prepared salad of citrus and yellow fruit, topped with a touch of vanilla ice cream, and you can imagine the flavour combination – this is a wine that is both indulgent and cleansing, and, in terms of foods, a brilliant match for a range of demanding ingredients, from herbal garnishes such as dill, to buttery sauces on a wide array of dishes, from fish to white meats, or vegetables such as asparagus or artichoke.
The wine we awarded was from the 2012 vintage, and the current release is 2015, as this is a wine that benefits from a bit of time maturing in bottle before consumption.
In terms of the technical details, the Sauvignon for the Aurora Point comes from north east facing slopes at 300m elevation, and the grapes are harvested by hand, pressed gently, and then fermented in oak puncheons (500 litre barrels), followed by seven months ageing in “neutral oak” puncheons, before bottling in April. Fewer than 300 cases are made of this wine.
Finally, for those of you who might be surprised at the decision to ferment and age a Sauvignon Blanc in wood – after all, the grape is associated with linear, lemongrass and lime-zest whites – it follows a long tradition of marrying this grape with oak in both Bordeaux but also California, where Robert Mondavi coined the term Fumé Blanc in the 60s to reflect the smoky, toasty, dry, fresh character of first-rate barrel-influenced Sauvignon – to differentiate it from lesser-quality, often sweet examples (the grape had come from Bordeaux to California in the late 1800s).
The wine: Stonestreet Estate Vineyards, Aurora Point Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc
The source: Sonoma County, Alexander Valley, California, USA
The grape(s): 100% Sauvignon Blanc
The style: A dry, fresh, gently creamy white wine with notes of passion fruit and pink grapefruit.
The price: £30-40
The medal: Master – The Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters, 2016
With high-quality judges and a unique sampling process, the Global Wine Masters provides a chance for your wines to star, whether they hail from the great vineyards of Europe or lesser-known corners of the New World.
It’s a competition dedicated to making winners out of winemakers.