What We Say 2007 Napa Valley Fumé Blanc
Agent White’s Top Selection
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Mission Codename: Running on Fumé
Operative: Agent Red
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: 2007 Fumé Blanc, Napa Valley
Winemaker: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
Backgrounder: In 1976, Mike Grgich rocked the wine world by creating a California that beat out French Chardonnays in the now famous Judgment of Paris. The French were outraged, and Mike Grgich earned the respect of wine drinkers and critics, worldwide. Today, Mike continues to oversee production of what have been heralded as “the finest wines in the world”. We are very proud to be able to bring you today’s fantastic Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Fumé Blanc.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful and glistening pale golden-yellow with glistening edges. When swirled, this wine shows a taught and springy surface that settles quickly, leaving behind closely-spaced, skinny legs that emerge quickly and then glide slowly down the inside of the glass
Smell – This wine presents a beautiful aromatic rush of bold tropical notes, with earthy pineapple, start fruit, citrus, peach, grapefruit, and zesty apple. These sit atop soft hints of spice and unique dry minerals.
Feel – Plush, round and velvet smooth up at the tip of the mouth, then slightly dry as the wine evolves to show off a medium-bodied structure that fills the palate as soft, structured tannins take hold
Taste – Rich and full-flavored, with the perfect balance of bright California fruit, merging with a richer and more austere Burgundian style, with flavors of tart apple, pineapple, grapefruit, lemon hints of soft spice and oak
Finish – This wine finishes ultra-long and very clean with lingering flavors that are supported by great acidity and fine minerality
Conclusion – Wow! This Grgich Fumé Blanc is an extraordinary wine. Coming from me, this is high praise as I am extraordinarily hard to please when it comes to white wines. Mike Grgich and nephew Ivo absolutely nail it with this wine, illustrating exactly why Mike Grgich is revered as a winemaking legend. In fact, you could argue that it was Grgich’s Chardonnay that, in 1976, catapulted the California wine scene to international recognition.
Today’s wine is delicious and a real joy to drink. The flavors and aromatics are absolutely superb and in perfect balance. The mineral component present a uniquely interesting aroma, almost exactly like the sand from a freshly opened bag of clean sandbox sand. While that may sound obscure to some, this is the clean mineral smell that I get. The initial dryness of the wine makes the mouth water, adding to the overall textural experience of the wine.
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
Grgich Hills Estate
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.
Complex and rich, this 100% Sauvignon Blanc is packed with layers of tropical aromas including white peaches, grapefruit and lemon oil. With its crisp, refreshing texture, hint of mineral and long ﬁnish, this versatile, flavorful white wine is a great companion to grilled shrimp, lemon risotto or a refreshing salad.
VINTAGE: 2007 was a wonderful vintage with a long, dry growing season. The warm spring brought early budding and bloom, followed by a relatively cool summer that gave a long growing time on the vine and then a heat spike at the end that jump-started harvest. Because we received only 60% of our normal precipitation, the grapes were smaller, reducing yield to less than three tons an acre but giving us concentrated flavors.
VINEYARD: All of our vineyards are certified organic and Biodynamic®. This holistic farming practice uses the earth’s natural cycles and organic preparations to grow balanced, healthy vines without artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides. Our Sauvignon Blanc grapes come from our cool 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 floral 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: 7.0 g/L
Fermentation: 80% neutral French Oak, 20% in 900 gal. oak casks.
Aging: six months on the lees in neutral barrels
Harvest date: Aug. 29th to Sept. 5th, 2007
Bottling date: April 4, 2007