This week I’m showcasing the “perfect pairings” or “great wine couples.” For California wine lovers, we know that, oftentimes (though not all the time), if a winemaker finds a great region for Pinot Noir, they’ve also found a place to source Chardonnay — and vice versa. Despite the great wine grape diversity in our Golden State, it seems that these two varieties are the most popular and tend to go hand-in-hand. But when it comes to New Zealand, the great white grape is, without a doubt, Sauvignon Blanc. And so it is with this varietal that we will take our romantic journey to the kiwi isles.
When I talked to Andrew Tow, owner of The Withers winery, I asked him about the various vineyards he sources from. When speaking of the Charles Vineyard he simply said, “It gave me goosebumps.” Well this wine gives me goosebumps…
Andrew Tow, owner of The Withers winery, has a passion for the Rhone wines. In fact, much of his portfolio is dedicated to Rhones — single-varietals and both classic and innovative blends. And for those grapes he turns to what has become known as California’s “Rhone Zone,” El Dorado County. Here the rusticity of the Sierra Foothills absolutely influence the grapes grown and, thus, the wines produce. When it comes to California’s “classics,” however — namely Chardonnay and Pinot Noir — Tow knows there’s no better place to source than the Sonoma Coast. But his preference for big bold flavors shows no bounds. And so it is that he and winemaker David Low crafted this Big Boy Chardonnay.
Pinot Noir from Carneros has been hit or miss with me. I often times find the expression so tightly wound that I lose all mention of real fruit. But Cuvaison has provided me not just a hit, but a home run. Crafted from a single vineyard block located on the vineyard’s highest elevation, using winemaking methods created specifically for these grapes, and keeping the real essence of those grapes and vineyards through every step of the winemaking process — Cuvaison has changed my perception of what Carneros has to offer Pinot Noir vineyards and has piqued my interest in the AVA.
I’d heard of the prestigious Cuvaison vineyard and winery, but this is my first adventure alongside them. What makes the wines so special? Not only are their grapes all estate grown, but the vineyard management is focused on block-by-block farming methods. So when tasting from their single-block series, as with this Chardonnay, one is tasting a very specific slice of Napa Valley terroir — which means precision in flavors and textures with every single sip.