Grgich Hills Estate
2008 Napa Valley Fumé Blanc
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Love is a smoke made with Fumé
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Return to Operative favorite, Grgich Hills Estate. This time secure an allocation of their fantastic Fumé Blanc
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Grgich Hills Estate
Wine Subject: 2008 Napa Valley Fumé Blanc
Winemaker: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
Backgrounder: Fumé Blanc, a creation in name by Robert Mondavi was conceived to add a new dimension to the lackluster Sauvignon Blanc that was being mass produced in California. Taking its cues from the styles of French Loire wines, specifically Sancerre and Pouilly
Fumé, Fumé Blanc expresses this varietal’s true delicious character and ties in its unique ability to be Terroir driven with excellent chalky, limestone and flinty minerality.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Crystal clear glistening light golden yellow that pales to almost clear along the edges. When swirled, this wine shows its springy surface that settles quickly, leaving behind closely-spaced, skinny legs that emerge quickly and then settle slowly down the inside of the glass.
Smell – Fresh and aromatic with citrus notes of fresh lemon, key lime and also a touch of tropical fruit and melon with hints of smoke, subtle fresh herbal components and chalky minerality.
Feel – Smooth, cool, dry and elegant with excellent minerality and acidity, this medium bodied white has good weight and balance that finds its support at the mid palate and lingers into to the long finish.
Taste – Crisp and tart citrus fruit including Meyers lemon and key lime with a touch of tropical melon are layered over a taught chalky and flinty minerality. Subtle smoke and herbal hints emerge under the fresh and bright fruit.
Finish – This wine finishes very long and ultra clean with lingering citrus, smoke and herbal flavors that are supported by great acidity and fine flinty minerality.
Conclusion – The 2008 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Fumé Blanc is even better than the 2007 vintage in our humble opinion. Crisp and clean with exceptional balance between its weight, acidity and minerality. Fresh and bright citrus fruit and its subtle complexity makes this wine perfect for food and just tastes like Springtime!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
DATE OF BIRTH: April 1st, 1923
PLACE OF BIRTH: Desne, in Croatia’s coastal Dalmatian region
WINE EDUCATION: Attended University of Zagreb. Field of study, viticulture and enology
CALIFORNIA WINERIES EXPERIENCE: Christian Brothers Cellars, Souverain Winery, Robert Mondavi and Beaulieu Vineyard (with André Tchelistcheff)
FOUNDED NAMESAKE WINERY: Grgich Hills Cellar, founded 1977, renamed to Grgich Hills Estate in 2006
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: To, “… year after year, is to improve the quality of [the] vineyards and [the] wines” and to, “… remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity”.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Chardonnay
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: In 1976, Mike Grgich’s Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won the infamous Judgement of Paris tasting, to become the best Chardonnay in the world. The fact that a California wine won the tasting shocked the wine world – and spurned Mr. Grgich on to great success with his own winery
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: On March 7, 2008, in recognition of his impact and contribution to the wine industry, Mr. Grgich was inducted into the Vintner Hall of Fame. The honor coincided with his 50th vintage of winemaking in the Napa Valley
GRGICH QUOTE: “For years, everybody in the world believed that only French soils could produce great wines. We shattered that myth. That was probably the most significant result of the Paris tasting. Our victory pumped new energy into the California wine industry, particularly in the Napa Valley.”
BLACK BERET: Mr. Grgich wears an ever present black beret. It is rumored that the beret is imbued with magical energies that power his winemaking talents. Further investigation is required…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Grgich Hills Estate can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
We fermented 80% of the grapes in previously used small French oak barrels with the rest in 900-gallon French oak casks, called foudres, using only naturally-occurring yeasts. We then aged the wine six months on its lees (the spent yeast) in neutral barrels. These techniques add body while showcasing the wonderful fruit, not masking it behind new oak. The wine’s mouth-watering acidity and elegant favors of tropical fruit, lemon grass and a touch of mineral at the end of the long fnish are perfect with grilled seafood and chicken, creamy pasta dishes or summer salads.
Vintage: From budbreak through harvest we didn’t see a drop of rain, making 2008 one of the driest years since we began in 1977. Frost threatened the new buds through April, then we enjoyed a steady, relatively cool growing season until a heat spike at the end August jump-started harvest. Thanks to even ripening, we harvested all of our Sauvignon Blanc in four days.
Vineyard: All of our vineyards are certifed organic and Biodynamic®. This holistic farming practice uses the earth’s natural cycles and organic preparations to grow balanced, healthy vines without artifcial fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides. Our Sauvignon Blanc grapes come from our American Canyon and Carneros vineyards in the southern tip of Napa Valley, near San Pablo Bay, which spills into San Francisco Bay. The coolness restrains vigor and allows the grapes to develop a crisp liveliness that is impossible to achieve in warmer areas. About 80% of our Sauvignon Blanc is planted to the Musqué clone, which provides elegant foral aromatics.
About The Winery:
Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen Mike’s 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.
The Paris Tasting served notice to the world that the California wine industry was on the move, and it laid the groundwork for the creation of Grgich Hills Cellar. After his victory in Paris, Mike sat down with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they gave birth to Grgich Hills. It was an ideal partnership. Austin owned premium vineyards in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley, and with his extensive background in business, he put the winery on its financial feet. Mike, with his fierce commitment to making wines of the highest quality, began producing what immediately became our signature wine: the exquisite, richly complex Chardonnays that win awards and delight wine lovers across America and throughout the world.
Today, we remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity. We are proud that world leaders such as Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand chose our wines to serve at state dinners, but we are just as proud that every single day discriminating wine drinkers count on Grgich Hills to turn their own dinners into special occasions.
As always, we treat each of our six different wines as a special child, carefully nurturing their development and character. Our main pride and joy is our Chardonnay, an elegant example of the varietal displaying rich flavors and exquisite balance. As a complement to the Chardonnay, we also produce a refreshingly crisp Fumé Blanc, a rich and spicy Zinfandel, a Cabernet Sauvignon with tremendous depth and complexity, a lush and richly fragrant Merlot, and a luscious dessert wine named “Violetta,” in honor of Mike’s daughter, Violet.
Now 85 years old, and still sporting his signature blue beret, Mike was inducted into the Vinter Hall of Fame in March 2008 in honor of his many contributions to the wine industry. While many other Napa wineries pursue strategies of expansion, Mike, along with his daughter, Violet, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, prefer to stay small. Their aim, year after year, is to improve the quality of their vineyards and their wines, relying on Mike’s unique artistic and intuitive touch. This strategy continues to pay significant dividends. Many wineries buy their grapes from outside vineyards. Grgich Hills now owns all of its own vineyards, all of which are certified organic and Biodynamic. Beginning with the 2003 vintage, all Grgich Hills wines are labeled “Estate Grown.” This guarantees a consistently superior level of quality, and it guarantees that Grgich Hills will remain a shining symbol of prestige and good taste. In recognition of that important milestone, the winery changed its name in 2007 to Grgich Hills Estate.
Varietals: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Total acidity: 7.1 g/L
Fermentation: indigenous yeast
Time in oak: 6 months on lees in neutral barrels
Type of oak: French oak 80% neutral barrels, 20% 900-gallon casks
Harvest date: August 28 through September 2, 2008
Sugar: 23.5˚ Brix (average)
Bottling date: April 6, 2009