Sauvignon Blanc has never been my go-to wine, but I’ve recently found a new appreciation for the varietal. I mean, I guess it’s true with any wine — there will by bad ones and there will be good ones and it all depends on the land, the hands, and the man (or woman). What I mean is, regardless of grape, the end result will be a product of its environment as well as the winemaker’s hand in the winemaking process. I had a chance to sip and savor this Sauvignon Blanc alongside Kenwood Vineyards winemaker himself, Pat Henderson, and learn first hand what went in to crafting this SB.
About the Wine: Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes from vineyards located in the appellations of Carneros in the Russian River Valley. Each vineyard lot was fermented separately after harvest in 100% stainless steel tanks.
From Pat: Kenwood has been making the Sonoma County series Sauvignon Blanc since 1981 and, Pat says, it’s consistently their most popular seller. The wine is a product of 30 different vineyards’ grapes. That may seem like a careless winemaking blend, but, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. The reason Pat loves this wine so much (indeed, when pressed, he admits the Sonoma County SB is his number one go-to Kenwood wine), is because Sauvignon Blanc is, what he calls, a “chameleon grape.” While other grapes can be picky about soil and climate, Sauvignon Blanc seem to simply take on the qualities of its surroundings — be it the fruit-forward notes of the Carneros or the minerality of the Russian River. And what Pat and his team do are harvest 30 different vineyards with 30 different flavor profiles, ferment them separately, age them separately, and taste each one separately during each stage of the winemaking process. Then, like chefs picking the right ingredients, they’ll blend the best of the batch right before bottling. And to hear Pat talk about it you can tell it’s a labor of love and a product of passion.
And don’t worry about the grape juice that didn’t get chosen. Kenwood sells that off to smaller wineries to produce their own white wine (admittedly some of the “cheaper” labels you’ll find in stores.)
Wondering about the screw-cap top? Pat and his team have been using screw cap tops since the late 90s (when they were still highly questionable) and prefers them on his white wine bottles, as he believes it preserves freshness (as well as promotes sustainability).
Flavor Profile: A very shy, pale yellow in the glass, Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc emits initial aromas that speak of a tropical island. Pineapple for certain, a bit of banana, and that strong citrus kick that gets you salivating just from the smell. Straight-away on the tongue, the wine has a cooling effect, a freshness, that amplifies that sea breeze sensed on the nose. That freshness paves the way for those tropical fruits to take center-stage mid-palate, but the fruits are quickly sliced and diced by simultaneous strong doses of acid and minerality. And it is a beachy, sandy, sea-salty minerality that is the lingering taste on the palate, fully immersing you in that tropical island dream.
From Pat: As I mentioned, when asked which Kenwood wine was his favorite, Pat had to admit that the Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc is a bottle you will always find in his cellar. He loves the light, crisp refreshing quality and the fact that it’s not too fruit-forward (as he mentions the Six Ridges SB can be). Added bonus: it’s a general crowd pleaser, so perfect to keep on hand for family gatherings or other large get-togethers.
Food Pairing: According to the spec sheet, Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc is enjoyable on its own or paired with “a spring vegetable salad and herb-roasted fish.”
From Pat: Pat is a big food and wine guy, always looking to find the perfect pairing. But when asked what he would pair the Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc with, he simply answers that it’s the perfect aperitif. And I must admit, I agree.
More Info: I received the Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon as a sample for my one-on-one tasting with winemaker Pat Henderson. For more information about the Jack London series or any of Kenwood Vineyards wines, please visit the Kenwood Vineyards website.
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