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Illumination Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, California
  • CG93
  • WE91
14.2% ABV
  • JS94
  • WE93
  • RP91
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14.2% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Illumination is aromatic with white peach, Meyer lemon and floral, jasmine notes. Soft tropical fruit flavors lead to a lush mouth-feel with a clean finish enhanced by mineral notes.

Critical Acclaim

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CG 93
Connoisseurs' Guide
Bigger and broader than most of its cousins, but a well-structured working whose richness comes with no loss of brightness or balance, the latest Illumination is a deep, decidedly complex look at Sauvignon Blanc that reaches from citrus and sweet oak to dried herbs and grasses. It is moderately full-bodied and shows a bit of finishing raggedness, but it is a serious, ageworthy wine that will smooth and settle over the next several years, and the wait is sure to be handsomely repaid.
WE 91
Wine Enthusiast
This well-crafted white is made from Sauvignon Blanc Musque, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, with winemaker Charles Thomas tapping sites in both Napa County (67%) and Sonoma County (33%). A pretty wine, it’s creamy, herbal and completely lifted by a strong sense of minerality, coasting to the razor’s edge of just-squeezed lemon.
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Illumination

Illumination Wine

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Illumination Wine, Napa Valley, California
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Intrigued with white wines from the Loire Valley, and desirous of a white wine from Quintessa that he could enjoy at home with friends and family, Agustin planted a half-acre of Sauvignon Blanc at the Quintessa estate in 2002. This little plot of vines lives in the alluvial soils on the northwestern corner of the estate near the river, where airflow and cooler temperatures encourage the grapes to thrive in an appellation best known for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Illumination first emanated from this little vineyard, appearing in limited circles. Quickly, its rays penetrated the palates of sommeliers, friends and guests who requested Illumination for their own cellars and restaurants. We searched for more grapes from nearby vineyards in Rutherford and the cooler southern regions of Napa Valley always seeking vineyards with alluvial soils and limited yields to provide concentration, mineral notes and bright, vibrant character.

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.

The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

Sauvignon Blanc

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A crisp, refreshing variety that equally reflects both terroir and varietal character, Sauvignon blanc is responsible for a vast array of wine styles. However, a couple of commonalities always exist—namely, zesty acidity and intense aromatics. The variety is of French provenance, and here is most important in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. It also shines in New Zealand, California, Australia and parts of northeastern Italy. Chile and South Africa are excellent sources of high-quality, value-priced Sauvignon blanc.

In the Glass

From its homeland In Bordeaux, winemakers prefer to blend it with Sémillon to produce a softer, richer style. In the Loire Valley, it expresses citrus, flint and smoky flavors, especially from in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. Marlborough, New Zealand often produces a pungent and racy version, often reminiscent of cut grass, gooseberry and grapefruit. California produces fruity and rich oak-aged versions as well as snappy and fresh, Sauvignon blancs, which never see any oak.

Perfect Pairings

The freshness of Sauvignon Blanc’s flavor lends it to a range of light, summery dishes including salad, seafood and mild Asian cuisine. Sauvignon Blanc settles in comfortably at the table with notoriously difficult foods like artichokes or asparagus. When combined with Sémillon (and perhaps some oak), it can be paired with more complex seafood and chicken dishes.

Sommelier Secret

Along with Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc is the proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. That green bell pepper aroma that all three varieties share is no coincidence—it comes from a high concentration of pyrazines (an herbaceous aromatic compound) inherent to each member of the family.

PIN363350_2013 Item# 136474