Silverado Vineyards, Yountville-Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc Miller Ranch Vineyard 2006 ($20): In preparation for an upcoming seminar, I recently raided my wine cellar and tasted every recent-vintage Sauvignon Blanc that I had. The tasting was fascinating because the wines spanned almost every style of Sauvignon Blanc wines that exists, from crisp and vibrant unoaked wines to rich, ripe (but still unoaked) examples to flashy, barrel-fermented renditions. Sauvignon Blanc really is the opposite of Chardonnay, I thought, because every bottle of it is as different from the next as every Chardonnay is the same as the next.
I was particularly intrigued by several California wines in my line-up, including this 2006 bottling from Silverado Vineyards. All were unoaked, with high acidity and yet ripe, fruity flavors and softer texture than you would expect for wines with high acidity. The Silverado stood out from the rest because of the delicacy of its fruit character and a certain understatement of expression, as well as its depth and length across the palate.
Silverado Vineyards is situated in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. It is a winery born from a vineyard: in 1981, Diane and Ron Miller began construction on their winery after seeing the success that other wineries had with the grapes grown in the vineyard the Millers established in the 1970s. This Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Miller Ranch Vineyard, and contains two percent Semillon along with 98 percent Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was vinified in stainless steel and did not undergo malolactic fermentation.
In my experience, it is difficult to find a Sauvignon Blanc from California that tastes bone dry, and this applies somewhat to the Silverado as well. Although the Silverado has only one gram of residual sugar--a truly dry wine by any standard--its soft and viscous texture, especially on the fore palate, can appeal to wine drinkers the way that a touch of sweetness can. Without this texture, the wine might border on austerely dry. Instead of being austere, the wine has a certain roundness, perhaps thanks to its small Semillon content, and that roundness is interwoven with enlivening acidity, for a compelling contrast. The wine's aromas and flavors include grapefruit--which is refreshingly piercing on the nose--and other citrus notes, as well as melon and some flinty minerality.
Try this wine with fresh goat cheese, a delicate chicken breast dish, fresh spring and summer vegetables, or even dishes with fresh tomatoes. Its user-friendly screwcap closure makes it a cinch to open and its affordable $20 price makes it a great value.