The 2003 vintage was a real roller-coaster ride. After a warm, dry March, April was cold and wet, retarding development of the vines and adversely affecting grape set on several varieties. The summer months were generally cool, auguring a late season, but heat spells in August and early September kick-started the harvest, enabling the fruit to achieve full maturity. Because yields were down and berry sizes were small, our sauvignon blanc grapes, harvested between August 29th and September 29th, boasted excellent flavor concentration, with a fine balance of sugars and acids.
Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc is produced from grapes grown in our estate vineyards in Rutherford, as well as from vineyards in St. Helena and Calistoga to the north. These mid- and up-valley sites deliver fruit of great character, enabling us to produce a crisp, full-bodied, complex style of sauvignon blanc. For additional complexity, we blend in small amounts of semillon and sauvignon musqué, the latter an especially aromatic clone of the sauvignon variety.
Fermentation & Aging
To insure fresh, pure juice, the grapes were hand-harvested in early morning, whole cluster pressed, and then cold-settled in tank for 36 hours. The juice was then racked off the lees and inoculated with Prise de Mousse yeast to instigate fermentation. One-quarter of the juice was fermented in neutral French oak barrels, with the balance fermenting in tank. Three-quarters of the wine then spent an average of five months in barrel with periodic stirring of the yeast lees to add richness and enhance mouth-feel, while the balance aged entirely in stainless steel to lend the blend freshness, structure and minerality. After blending, the wine was bottled in March 2004.
Our 2003 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is redolent of citrus fruit (grapefruit, lime), melon, guava, fig, white peach, minerals, and hay, with a faint hint of oak. In the mouth, the wine is full and rich, but refreshingly crisp, with impressively focused citrus, melon and peach flavors that culminate in a mineral-y, lime-zest finish. Delightful to drink now, this classic Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc will blossom with an additional six months' bottle age and should be a pleasure to drink over the next 3-5 years, especially as an accompaniment to seafood and poultry dishes.