2011 Julianna Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc •Julianna Vineyards
California: Napa Valley
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Mission Codename: Realized Possibility
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red back to B Cellars, whose spectacular wines are made by all-start winemaker and winemaking favorite, Kirk Venge. Procure an allocation of their perfect summertime sipper, their impressive 2011 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: B Cellars
Wine Subject: 2011 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Winemaker: Kirk Venge
Winery Backgrounder: Since we first featured the fantastic blends from B Cellars a few years ago our operatives have been clamoring for us to feature another vintage! The focus at B Cellars is blending. This is evident, not only among the B Cellars team, but also among their wines. Each wine, or potion, is a unique proprietary blend that highlights the strengths of each component varietal and balances with its other varietals. Today’s delicious selection is the idea wine for Summer, but we’re stocking our cellar with extras – for the Fall and Winter Holidays.
Varietal Backgrounder: 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.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Bright golden yellow, from the core of the wine, out to the glinting edges. After a good swirl, the wine forms tall columns of slow moving tears that begin high on the glass.
Smell – Bright and sweet, with aromas that leap from the glass – especially as the wine warms. Fresh, sweet citrus, freshly cut pineapple, Granny Smith apple and golden pear combine with zest, slate and a hint of white spice.
Feel – Round and smooth on entry. Then, after a moment, the wine becomes softly grippy. This feeling begins at the front of the palate and then spreads its way rearward, to where it eventually dries out the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Bright and fresh, with lively flavors of green apple, citrus, Anjou pear, pineapple, dried white flowers, candied lemon peel and a hint of white pepper.
Finish – Flavors are very long-lasting, with lingering lemon, pineapple and green apple. These slowly yields to slate, lime and white flowers. At the very end, a subtle white pepper sensation can be felt along the gumline.
Conclusion – Brilliant! Today’s 2011 B Cellars Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderful, fresh, complex and delicious treat. Winemaker, Kirk Venge, is a modern winemaking hero of mine and I am over the moon, each time I have the opportunity to showcase one of his wines. This Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is one of the finest that I have tried – and that’s really saying something. Pair this food-fantastic wine with picnic foods, hard cheeses, seafood or even a grilled chicken. Or, enjoy it all on its own. This wine is very highly recommended, dear Operative.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Kirk Venge
YEAR OF BIRTH: 1976
PLACE OF BIRTH: Napa, California
WINE EDUCATION: UC Davis – Enology & Winemaking
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Proprietor & Winemaker/ Consultant Winemaker
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Greatness begins in the vineyards
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Multiple
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Purchasing the Venge brand from my father Nils and buying 12.6 acres in Calistoga to build a new winery and caves, set to complete in 2010
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “The vineyard determines the destiny of the winemaker.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Kirk. We are thrilled to be showing your 2011 Julianna Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
KIRK VENGE: Hi Red. Today you are getting a view into a very special wine, our wonderful 2011 Julianna Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
KIRK: I think it is the culmination of experiences. When you grow up in the wine industry, there is never a light that flips on telling you “I have to switch gears and make wine.” The wine industry has been a part of my life since I could walk and talk. My family is a winegrowing family. I have never known anything but grapes and incredible dirt to grow them on. I’m not alone in my upbringing but to the few of us that share second, third or fourth generation winemaking roots, that is a very special and coveted thing. I’m a second generation winegrower and third generation wine industry. Born and raised in Argentina from Danish decent, my grandfather, Per Venge, was a wine and spirits importer based in Southern California.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
KIRK: It changes with time but looking back, I’d say there are three. My father, Nils Venge, certainly taught me the production of wine and how he made it at Saddleback. I remember long days cranking a hand turned crusher and many long nights around a tiny basket press. That laid the foundation to how I make wine today but it was never entirely my own style. He encouraged me to find my own.
Growing up, Toby Forman was and still is my best friend. His father Ric Forman shared a lot of light into the theory of wine as well as the production. Ric is an academic but also exudes a romantic side to wine that I really enjoyed learning. He introduced me to French wines in particular. I really learned a lot from tasting and talking wine with Ric. He was a great teacher and loved mentoring Toby and I.
During college I worked my summers as a winemaking intern at Mumm and fortunately had the opportunity to work under Greg Fowler. He empowered his employees and we made a lot of wine together. My responsibilities at Mumm took me to another level. I was the experimental winemaker during harvests and we made hundreds of sparkling base lot cuvee’s as well as still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir table wines for his Fowler brand. That was a great 4 years during college and a final harvest in ’99 when I returned from an internship abroad in New Zealand. In November of 1999 I left Mumm and have been on my own since.
Today, with the brands that I’m so fortunate to be a part of making at various facilities, I get to work alongside and observe many of Napa Valley’s greatest winemakers. I think that has many wonderful advantages and keeps my practices as forward thinking as possible. We learn from one another on a daily basis with what works and doesn’t.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
KIRK: I would have to say when it depends entirely on the fruit source and style. Single vineyard or blend? In a single vineyard scenario, I make wine for the site as if it were a person or a critic. I want that wine to reflect the best of what that ground has to offer. Do the site justice. In a blend scenario, that is a wine made for the consumer and/or the client. Blend to the best final outcome with the wines at your disposal. Coach the best team of players. I’m always thinking about how a critic may enjoy the final product but if rest easier when I like the wine, the client likes it and consumer feedback is positive. With those three in check, we know we have a good wine regardless of a point score (but I sure do smile big when they are high).
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
KIRK: This is an easy wine to pair with crisp and light dishes. I think a seafood pasta or chicken paillard with a squeeze of lemon would be spot on.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley such a special place for Sauvignon Blanc?
KIRK: Napa Valley is a wonderful AVA for a multitude of varietals because of its distance from the Bay leading north to south. We can grow cooler varietals closer to the marine influence and the warmer varietals in Calistoga in the north and eastern AVAs of Pope, Chiles and Cappelle Valleys. We are a diverse place. Our Sauvignon Blanc hails from Pope Valley where Sauvignon Blanc is comfortable in the warm climate.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
KIRK: We are gearing up for harvest right now. I’ve been logging miles in the truck looking at vineyards as they are rounding out veraison, or the change of color from green to yellow in whites, or green to black in the reds. This is an important time to get the vineyard set up correctly with crop load and cleanup before we really get busy later this month. I’m also taking advantage of this last lead up to harvest to make the last of the market visits.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
KIRK: If you can let my wines age at least a couple of years, the better. Venges make wines that age. I’m often disappointed with my wines when they are under a year in the bottle. That is hardly enough bottle age to enjoy them. Opening this 2006 that you are featuring today is right in the wheelhouse to fully enjoy.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
KIRK: Thank you for the opportunity Agent Red. On behalf of myself and the guys at B Cellars, we really appreciate the support. I never lose sight of the belief that without those who enjoy wine, there is no need for making it. Winemaking to me is living the dream. Without those of you out there enjoying it, the dream would not be possible. Many, many thanks!
RED: 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!
KIRK: Many Thanks, Red… and to everyone who reads this interview and purchases this beautiful Sauvignon Blanc! Here comes harvest ’12!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the B Cellars Tasting Room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This Sauvignon Blanc bursts with tropical notes of pineapple, papaya, guava, with wild flowers, and citrus perfume. The balance in this wine is seamless. Integrated acidity, and fresh white fruits fill the palate, leaving you thirsting for more.
Experience and Fine Napa Wines:
When B Cellars’ founder Jim Borsack first encountered his partner Duffy Keys at a fourth of July barbeque in 2002, both executives were exploring new life paths in the wine business. Over a drop of the good stuff, of course, their journeys became intertwined when they discovered that they not only shared the same tastes in wine but were also on parallel missions to acquire vineyard property.
In the spring of 2003, they scrapped their solo endeavors, formed B Cellars, and got serious about structuring a first-rate wine company predicated upon two absolute principles: first, to produce exceptional artisan wines, season after season, by employing a multi-vineyard strategy, and second, to develop distinct flavors by blending wines from mutually complementary varietals.
Not long after they met the third key player, Kirk Venge named “One of the Top 20 New Winemakers in the World” by Food & Wine Magazine (October 2005). Kirk brought with him a 37 year winemaking legacy via his father, Nils, and a keen understanding of the Napa appellation. A bond was established almost immediately. “With Kirk’s passion for great wine, first-hand knowledge and commitment to excellence, it quickly became apparent that he was the ideal winemaker for B Cellars,” said Jim.
All team members were in concert with the idea of blending the finest red wines from the Napa Valley Appellation, and Kirk was given the mandate to create three proprietary blends of consummate quality from year to year.
The B Cellars name and logo stand for a commitment to seasonless excellence. The letter ‘b’ and the degree symbol º refer to BRIX, a wine term which defines the optimal sugar/alcohol content in grape juice that indicates the potential for greatness.
B Cellars is committed to the artisan approach, creating perfectly balanced and complex wines. We are confident you will enjoy them and be proud to share them with friends and family.