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Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2003

Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    Aromas of honey, lemon, and grapefruit rind form the citrus core. Layers of lychee, pear, sage, and clove transition into flavors of Meyer lemon, fig, kiwi and passion fruit. Driven by the passion, pear and lemon, a complex finish of cream, toast, straw and butter ends with focused acidity and lingering citrus fruit.

    Critical Acclaim

    Ehlers Estate

    Ehlers Estate

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    Ehlers Estate, , California
    Ehlers Estate
    In 1886, Bernard Ehlers completed planting the vineyards and constructed the stone winery building, which remains today as the focal point of the Estate. When Ehlers passed away in 1901, he left the Estate to his wife Anna, who maintained the property for the next 15 years. In 1923, local resident Alfred Domingos purchased the land from Anna Ehlers. Since home winemaking was legal, Domingos and his brother "bootlegged" wine and brandy to a growing stream of Bay Area visitors. In fact, so many tourists came to Napa Valley to obtain illegal alcohol that the Carquinez Bridge was erected to facilitate transportation.

    The early 1970s brought a revived interest in California wines, and the Estate became home to a number of small new wineries including Conn Creek Winery, Saintsbury, and Stratford Winery. In 1982, Parisians Jean and Sylviane Leducq established the Prince Michel Vineyards and Winery in Virginia. Their goal was to marry their Gallic passion for fine wine and food with American history. Under the direction of French enologist Jacques Boissenot, in 1987, the Leducqs purchased 7 acres of vineyard that were part of the original land tract belonging to W.W. Lyman.

    In May 2001, the original stone winery and estate home built by Bernard Ehlers was purchased, thus reuniting the Estate. The stewardship of Ehlers Estate is now in the hands of the Leducq Foundation.

    With its fairytale aesthetic, Germanic influence, and strong emphasis on white wines, Alsace is one of France’s most unique viticultural regions. This hotly contested stretch of land on France’s northeastern border has spent much of its existence as German territory, and this is easy to see both in Alsace’s architecture and wine styles. A long, narrow strip running north to south, Alsace is nestled in the rain shadow of the Vosges mountains, making it perhaps the driest region of France. The growing season is long and cool, and autumn humidity facilitates the development of noble rot for the production of late-picked sweet wines Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles. Alsace is divided into two halves—the Haut-Rhin and the Bas-Rhin—the former, at higher elevations, is associated with higher quality and makes up the lower portion of the region.

    The best wines of Alsace can be described as aromatic and honeyed, even when completely dry. The region’s “noble” varieties are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and Pinot Gris. Other varieties grown here include Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chasselas, Sylvaner, and Pinot Noir—the only red grape permitted here, responsible for about 10% of production and often used for sparkling rosé known as Crémant d’Alsace. Riesling is Alsace’s main specialty, and historically has always been bone dry to differentiate it from its German counterparts. In its youth, Alsatian Riesling is fresh and floral, developing complex mineral and gunflint character with age. Gewurztraminer is known for its signature spice and lychee aromatics, and is often utilized for late harvest wines. Pinot Gris is prized for its combination of crisp acidity and savory spice as well as ripe stone fruit flavors. Muscat is vinified dry, and tastes of ripe green grapes and fresh rose petal. There are 51 Grand Cru vineyards in Alsace, and only these four noble varieties are permitted within. While most Alsatian wines are bottled varietally, blends of several (often lesser) varieties are commonly labeled as ‘Edelzwicker.’

    Riesling

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    A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling, and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Oregon, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes in New York.

    In the Glass

    Riesling is low in alcohol, with high acidity, steely minerality, and stone fruit, spice, citrus, and floral notes. At its ripest it leans towards juicy peach and nectarine, and pineapple, while in cooler climes it is more redolent of meyer lemon, lime, and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of gasoline.

    Perfect Pairings

    Riesling is very versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice), and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.

    Sommelier Secret

    It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.

    EPCEEESBC/03/750_2003 Item# 78492

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