I am a skeptical Sauvignon Blanc drinker. When done well (to my palate), the varietal offers flavors of fruits and florals, herbs, and minerality. The mouthfeel should be crisp and refreshing, yes, but also provide a bit of texture, body, and weight. Some of this is dependent on the clone use; a lot of it is based on the terroir; but ultimately the finesse, the seamless flow from the tip of the tongue through to the back of the palate, up into the nasal and down toward the core — that is crafted by the winemaker.
Since this is my first post about J. Cage Cellars, a winery I hadn’t heard about until proprietor Roger Beery contacted me, I’d like to include a little bit of background about who they are and what they’re about…
About the Winery: Texas native Roger Beery, proprietor of J. Cage Cellars has a professional background in risk-management; he owned his own risk-management consulting firm and taught risk management at the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife Donna are life-long wine lovers who, in 2009, started their own wine blog Bachus and Beery. “Donna and I followed what we call our Wine-Stained Dream: a passion for Pinot Noir that turned us into wine writers, and then, eventually, winemakers,” Beery says on the winery website.
It wasn’t until their son, current J. Cage Cellars winemaker, Conch Beery, and their daughter, the winery’s brand ambassador, Whitney, moved to California to pursue their careers in the wine industry, that Beery and his wife decided to make the move themselves, ultimately founding J. Cage Cellars.
“Our philosophy is traditional and non-interventionist,” says Beery. And while many winery’s boast this philosophy, I can tell you that this ultimately comes through with every sip of J. Cage Cellars wines.
So it’s fitting that I start with their 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, an admittedly hard varietal to get to give elegance and grace, substance and purpose. And yet, that is exactly what J. Cage Cellars does and does well.
About the Wine: The J. Cage Cellars 2017 Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, 50% Sauvignon Blanc 1 clone and 50% Sauvignon Blanc Musqué clone, harvested from the Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard located in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. According to proprietor Roger Beery, the vineyard is originally part of the 1843 Tzabaco Rancho Mexican land grant and the property has been farmed by the Phillips-Schmidt family for more than 160 years.
The wine was aged in combination neutral French oak barrels (45%) and stainless steel (55%)
Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the J. Cage Cellars 2017 Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and breathe in appetizing aromas of persimmons, nuts, flowers, and a scent reminiscent of walking by a French bakery first thing in the morning. This Sauvignon Blanc is nearly clear on the pour, settling into the glass with a pale lemon hue.
Initial aromas are of lemon-lime zest, white flowers, a whisper of honey. Swirl and the wine reveals more citrus, acid, a waft of sea breeze, and agave nectar. On the palate the wine is quite smooth at the forefront. The acidity subtly inclines and leaves just a little kick of white heat in the mouth. There’s a delicate textural finish, a texture that just gently envelopes the outermost perimeter of the tongue.
Dominant flavors are of raw honey (mostly in the background), blond caramel, persimmon, lemon curd, lime zest, wheat, and parsley.
Food Pairing: I paired the J. Cage Cellars 2017 Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc with a vegetarian quinoa bowl: spinach, mushrooms, onion, boca meat, and a sprinkle of cheese (combination blue and sharp cheddar). Yes, an epic, hearty bowl it was and this simultaneously delicate but substantial white wine was the perfect pairing. That funky raw honey background, latent when sipping on its own, perfectly paired with the funk and sharpness of the cheeses. The freshness of the greens brought out the freshness of the wine’s fruit flavors, namely that citrus curd. The spices in the boca and the meatiness of the mushrooms called out the Sauvignon Blancs herbs and floral notes.
One thing I did notice when enjoying the wine with food that I did not when I was sipping it on its own is that there is a slight effervescence to it as well. Very slight, very subtle, this effervescence is detectable even when the wine comes up in temperature.
Note: White wines with a mature attitude do not (and in some cases should not) be served at freezing temperatures.
More Info: I received the J. Cage Cellars 2017 Tzabaco Rancho Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc as a sample for review. (Cheers Roger!) Price: $30 For more information about J. Cage, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the J. Cage Cellars website.
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