2006 Samantha's Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc •Lancaster Estate
California: Alexander Valley
What we say
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Mission Codename: From where do great wines come?
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Place Lancaster Estate under surveillance to determine whether great wine comes from the soil, the grapes, the people… or all three
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Lancaster Estate
Wine Subject: 2006 Samantha’s Sauvignon Blanc
Winemakers: Jennifer Higgins, David Ramey & Daniel Roberts, Ph.D
Lancaster Estate remains true to the founding vision of Proprietor Ted Simpkins. Lancaster is a family owned winery, dedicated to crafting wines that are Estate grown, bottled, and produced.
In 1995, Lancaster purchased the former Maacama Creek Winery and its surrounding vineyard and gave the Estate the family name, “Lancaster.” The family was attracted to the site’s abundant hillsides, knowing that their diverse elevations, aspects and slopes would provide a wide range of micro-climates from which they could produce wines of intensity and concentrated varietal character.
Lancaster Estate wines are among the very favorite wines of The Wine Spies and their Sauvignon Blanc has earned a special place in our hearts and at our tables. This is a wine of exceptional refinement, style, flavor and balance.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Lightest pale straw in color, with shimmering golden highlights
Smell – A wonderfully forward aroma of green melon, citrus, dried hay and pink grapefruit
Feel – At times tingly on the tip of the tongue, but this mellows with time in the air. Wet, round and full in the mouth with a slight dryness at the tip of the tongue
Taste – Beautifully sweet and tart, with gentle lime, melon, flint and lemongrass
Finish – Sterling silver with lemongrass flavors that tail off slowly to become more mineral and tart
Conclusion – It is clear to me that this wine is the result of the Dream Team that is the land, grapes, climate, and people of Lancaster. If you buy this wine and don’t LOVE it, I’ll eat my spy shades. Most of the wines that we present are really very good. This wine makes me want to scream about how GREAT it is! I am very partial to Sauvignon Blanc and have had the good fortune to try one great example after another. This wine is the best Sauv Blanc that I have tried in a long time and I give it my heartiest personal recommendation.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The Estate is located at the southernmost tip of Alexander Valley, and includes 53 hillside acres of vineyard surrounding the winery. Situated near the confluence of the Knights Valley and Chalk Hill appellations, this location offers a great diversity of soils and micro-climates and the optimum growing conditions for Bordeaux varieties. The Estate enjoys warm days and cool nights, and a longer growing season than other Cabernet-driven appellations. As a result, Lancaster wines express their rich, ripe flavors with bright vibrancy and balance.
The property consists of 24 vineyard blocks that are sub-divided into 27 distinct sub-blocks. The vineyard is planted exclusively to the classic Bordeaux varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
The location of the Lancaster Estate can be seen in this satellite photo
Wine Spies Technical Analysis:
83% Sauvignon Blanc, 17% Sauvignon Blanc Musque’
Total acid: 0.67%
Alcohol, by volume: 14.1%
What the winery says
2006 Lancaster Estate, Samantha’s Sauvignon Blanc
The debut vintage of our 2006 Sauvignon Blanc honors our daughter, Samantha. This wine exhibits crisp melon and citrus fruit with layers of complexity that carry over the long finish. Aged 7 months in 90% stainless steel and 10% new French oak barrels, the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered, to retain purity of expression. 458 cases produced.
Consistent with our Estate’s focus on classic Bordeaux varietals, this wine is a bright blend of two Sauvignon Blanc sub-types: clone 1 and Musque’ clone. We chose a historic location to produce our first white wine.
In 1841, the Mexican government granted what is now Alexander Valley to a sea captain, Henry Delano Fitch, who in turn hired pioneer Cyrus Alexander—the valley’s namesake—to manage his new property. Fitch gave Alexander his own land in 1847, near present-day Healdsburg, and the pioneer is believed to have established Zinfandel vineyards in short order. This turned out to be a visionary undertaking, as the winegrowing conditions in Alexander Valley closely resemble the French regions of Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley.
Today, Cyrus’ great grandson, Truman Clark, continues to farm the original family stead, growing Sauvignon Blanc of great complexity and quality. We contracted with Truman to farm and harvest a small vineyard block from the stead, creating “Samantha’s Sauvignon Blanc.”
A warm, long growing season led to consistent concentration in varietal maturity. Overall, this vintage gave us high quality fruit and firm acidity. Harvest lasted from September 18 through October 29.
Winemaker Jennifer Higgins
Jennifer joined Lancaster Estate in 1999, attracted to working for a winery dedicated to crafting limited-production, Estate-grown wines. Jennifer is a graduate of UC Davis, with a degree in biochemistry. She credits her winemaking philosophy and style to the influence of her mentors—such notable winemakers as Jill Davis, Margaret Davenport, and David Ramey.
“Lancaster is that rare thing among wineries. Every decision we make—from growing and harvesting the grapes to winemaking, barrel aging and bottling— cultivates the character of our wines. All of our grapes are grown here on the Estate, which means I spend lots of time walking in the vineyard, developing an understanding of every row in every block. It’s this understanding and an integrated approach to winegrowing that allows us to make wines that consistently honor and reflect the essence of the Estate.” – Jennifer Higgins
Wine Maker David Ramey
Jennifer and her production team are aided by renowned winemaker David Ramey. Most notably, Mr. Ramey has assisted some of the world’s finest wine producers, such as Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux, and Dominus and Rudd in Napa Valley. In addition to consulting with Lancaster Estate and other fine wine producers, he has his own winery in Healdsburg.
Wine Scientist, Daniel Roberts, Ph. D
To ensure improvement with each vintage, Lancaster hired viticulturist Daniel Roberts, Ph.D. and his team at Integrated Winegrowing to study and measure the winery’s viticultural efforts. Dan Roberts, aka “Dr. Dirt,” is a renowned vineyard specialist who has directed winegrowing research at Jackson Family Farms as well as consulting with many other fine wine producers. He received his Ph.D. in soils science from UC Davis.
“Integrated Winegrowing is a team concept which assumes that every proposed vineyard location is unique. From there, we each apply our talents or strengths to the vineyard which allows us to analyze all factors that will affect the life of each individual vine, and ultimately enhance the quality of fruit produced on an annual basis.” – Daniel Roberts, Ph.D.