2009 Edna Valley Sauvignon Blanc
What we say
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Mission Codename: The White Leopard
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Acquire a limited allocation of the Adam LaZarre’s newest Sauvignon Blanc
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: LaZarre Wines
Wine Subject: 2009 Edna Valley San Luis Obisbo Sauvignon Blanc
Winemaker: Adam LaZarre
California’s Central Coast region, and specifically Santa Barbara and San Luis Obisbo County has become one of the state’s premier wine regions. The generally warmer climate, moderated by the coastal fog, its sandy and clay loam soil, and broad exposure results in grapes of exceptional purity.
Sauvignon Blanc originally hails from the Loire Valley in France, but has found new homes in other parts of France (Bordeaux, where it is blended with Sauternes); New Zealand, and specifically the Marlborough region as well as California. It is generally dry and crisp with flavors of apples, pears and tropical fruit and tends to have bright acidity that lends itself well to pairing with spicy foods.
Adam LaZarre, while he is officially the winemaker for Villa San-Juliette Winery (and formerly from Hahn Estates and their affiliated labels) has been making super-premium, limited quantity wines for years and has elevated his skill to an art form. Always an operative favorite, this wine is well worth tasting.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Light, pale and crystal clear straw yellow with very subtle greenish tints that turn nearly clear along the edges. When swirled, thin random legs ring the glass before descending to the wine below.
Smell – Bright and focused aromas of stone and tropical fruit along with tart citrus lead off with a touch of green grass and herbal notes and a slight touch of smoke.
Feel – Restrained and lean, this youthful medium bodied dry wine has racy acidity with a touch of minerality that lingers into the finish.
Taste – Clean and crisp with this wine’s tropical and citrus fruit dancing over the palate while its subtle green herb and grass, mineral notes and hints of smoke linger just underneath.
Finish – Long and clean, this vibrant wine lingers with bright tropical and citrus fruit flavors and tart acidity and mineral texture.
Conclusion – The 2009 LaZarre Wines Edna Valley San Luis Obisbo Sauvignon Blanc is a fresh and youthful wine that is the perfect aperitif for fresh or raw seafood. Its bright tropical and citrus fruit greets you on the nose and lingers long into the finish. Enjoy this wine now or cellar for a couple years to give it some time to further develop.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Adam LaZarre, AKA Agent Orange
WINE EDUCATION: Fresno State University Bachelor of Science Enology
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Winemaker/Director of Operations at Villa San-Juliette Winery. Consulting Winemaker for Hearst Ranch Winery. Former VP of Winemaking at Hahn Estates, several Central Coast wineries over the past two decades
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: People drink wine in good times and in bad, therefore, always make your wine taste expensive
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing…”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Under my label? November,2004 – LaZarre 2003 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Adam – AKA Agent Orange. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Edna Valley Sauvignon Blanc today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ORANGE: Dude. Always a pleasure to chat with a real secret agent.
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ORANGE: Yup. Well, several. I can think of a number of wines that changed my paradigm about wine at various times throughout my life. 1970 Lynch-Bages my dad had in the cellar, 1977 Graham’s Vintage Port, 1986 J. Phelps Insignia, 1985 Beringer Knights Valley Cab, and a particular late 80’s Chardonnay from Western Australia…the name escapes me.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ORANGE: The late Don Blackburn, former winemaker at Bernardus taught me of the importance of mouthfeel. Barry Gnekow, consultant and former J. Lohr winemaker taught me the importance of always overdelivering in every bottle, all the time. Rick Boyer (Jekel/Blackstone), Paul Clifton (Hahn Estates), and Christian Rougenant (Tangent/Baileyanna) have all added something to my technique and style.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
ORANGE: Companies? Villa San-Juliette Winery, Hearst Ranch Winery, my own brand. I make wine for the consumers. I make wine the owners are proud to take to a party. For me and my wife’s label, I make a wine that we can drink at home without getting bored of it.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ORANGE: Its a Sauvignon Blanc from the Paragon Vineyards in the Edna Valley appellation. I have always wanted to focus on Sauvignon Blanc as it is truly a difficult wine to make correctly. Edna Valley is probably my favorite appellation for the varietal as wines made from this appellation routinely contain a melange of varietally correct flavors and aromas – gooseberry, grass, grapefruit, melon.
The grapes were tank fermented very slowly, then taken down to neutral French barrels for extended lees aging for about 9 months. Secondary fermentation was inhibited so although there is a considerable amount of mouthfeel, the fruit flavors are pure and pronounced with a very racy acidity underscoring the whole affair.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ORANGE: Oh man. Easy. Steamed clams in butter, garlic, and white wine with a little parsley and a few bacon bits tossed in. Damn.
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Central Coast and Edna Valley in particular so special?
ORANGE: Virtually all I do is from the Central Coast of California. There are soooo many challenges that really excite me as a winemaker. As for Edna Valley, the direct ocean influence makes for an insanely long growing season so flavors are extreme, acids are pronounced, and pH is low. But, everything always seems so in balance.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ORANGE: Building it. We have this gorgeous facility on 132 acres (Villa San-Juliette) with two 3,000 sq/ft winery buildings that have just gone in. Next step is to load it up with equipment and a tasting room. I’m getting tired of making all of my wines at friends’ wineries…..
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ORANGE: A glass of wine should ALWAYS leave you asking “What food would I pair with this?” It has to beg the question. It should be the first thought you have after your very first sip. I hope mine do just that. But a wine should still be complete enough to stand on its own as an aperitif.
WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
ORANGE: I just had a new baby girl a few weeks back. Wait. That’s redundant. A “new” baby girl? As opposed to an “old” baby girl? OK. Im still a little sleep deprived…
WHITE: Congratulations on the new addition to the LaZarre family! Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Edna Valley AVA in San Luis Obisbo County can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
Racy. Crisp. Mouthwatering. A whole slew of wonderful adjectives can be used to describe this wine. Tropical flavors framed with a bit of gooseberry and grass. Layers of subtle fruit flavors that extend vertically. The finish is lengthy…really lengthy.
This is the first wine that I’ve produced in my 20 years of winemaking that I actually bring home to drink. You know, you’ve had your stuff a thousand times before bottling… you kind of get sick of it. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. But the subtle nuances supported with the power of a sledgehammer just intrigues the hell out of me. I find something new to like about this wine each time I taste it.
The fruit comes from the Edna Valley, a special appellation of San Luis Obispo county at the southern end near the ocean that is just fabulous for cooler climate varietals. Acids tend to be big and pH’s tend to be low – two components necessary for super food pairing AND longevity in the bottle. Given these two considerations plus the fact that these grapes are packed with intense flavors, I was able to apply my favorite white winemaking protocol in both tank and barrel fermenting this wine using old neutral oak barrels. The secondary fermentation was inhibited allowing me to maintain the sharp focus of this wine. Sur-lies aging contributed greatly to mouthfeel. The resulting wine is a Sauvignon Blanc on steroids. Enjoy!
We often think of Pinot Noir as conforming to one of two distinct styles: Burgundian or Californian. So what defines either? I think I understand what people are referencing when the conversation comes up, but I don’t think that a delineation of these two “styles” is that easy to define, nor is universally applied. Generally speaking, when someone tells me a Pinot is Californian in style, I immediately understand without so much as a confirming taste that what they are saying, is that the wine is oaky, rich, and “clean” – cherry/strawberry notes without the more interesting complexities that whole cluster fermentation and reductive winemaking contribute to the aromatic and flavor profile. I hope that was as diplomatic a definition. I wouldn’t want to be on record as saying “stinky”.
In contrast, when someone tells me a wine is Burgundian, I usually take it to mean that the wine possesses aromas that are reductive, stemmy, or generally unusual and the flavors can only be described as austere. To me, that is untrue, disingenuous, and even insulting to the wines that actually originate in Burgundy. The fact is, only wines that come from Burgundy can be described as “Burgundian”. The terroir is so unique and the growing conditions so inimitable as to be almost completely irreproducible anywhere else in the world…save Oregon in certain years. Outside of that, Pinot Noir must and should be only known as Pinot Noir, without any other defining adjective outside of the descriptors that define the wine in question. Then all will be right in the world and I can get back to my favorite past time: bitching about the over-planting and subsequent over-production of Merlot. Oh, and drinking tequila. Yep. Don’t want to forget that. I love tequila.
How lucky to have made Pinot Noir in 2007. It is by all accounts the best vintage EVER for the variety on the Central Coast, maybe all of California. I can tell you with 100% certainty that the LaZarre wines of 2007 are by far the best I’ve ever made. Just remarkable. Intense. Deep. Structured. Complex. Complete. It is a blend of Sierra Madre Vineyards from the Santa Maria Valley and a famous San Luis Obispo County Pinot Vineyard that I can’t name because of contractual obligations. Nothing is simple with me. Sorry.
About The Winery:
I started LaZarre Wine Company in 2003 as a means to produce unique, small quantity releases of wines I find fascinating, particularly (but not limited to) Pinot Noirs and Pinot Blancs. As a successful veteran winemaker working for some of the most exclusive wineries on the Central Coast I get to work with some of the most remarkable vineyards in California but often have no vehicle that I can use to showcase their wines as they are normally just components in a bigger blend. LaZarre Wines gives me just such a vehicle, often producing vineyard designated or sub-appellation specific wines. Almost all are small lot and hand crafted with minimalist “winemaker intervention”. Just crush, ferment, and jam into the barrel. The strength of the wine lies in the vineyard – as it should be.
About Adam Lazarre – Winemaker
Adam LaZarre is also the man behind outstanding wines here at Villa San-Juliette Winery. Making the transition from Hahn Estates Winery in Monterey where he has been the head winemaker for the past 8 years, Adam has an impressive list of accomplishments under his belt. He has lead the nation in gold medal hauls three out of the last five years as well as Best-of-Show awards. In addition, he has been honored by the Sacramento Bee as Winemaker of the Year in 2005, and was named one of the Top Five Winemakers in 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Adam first fell in love with California wine while serving in the US Navy. At some point, his passion for the liquid became so consuming, that he enrolled in the Enology program at Fresno State University immediately upon receiving his honorable discharge. While in the department, he fell in love with the Central Coast wine growing region and chose to make it his home upon graduation. Although he has produced wines from virtually every major appellatin in California over the course of his two decade career, he truly enjoys above all else the challenges and rewards that Paso Robles wine making has to offer. While walking through the vineyards after first meeting with Ken and Nigel, it became apparent to him that Villa San-Juliette should be his new home. All of us here are excited to have Adam in charge of the team.
Winemaker: Adam LaZarre
Appellation: Edna Valley
Varietal: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Cases Produced: 365
Cooperage: 100% Stainless Steel Tank
Bottling date: September 14, 2010