Opulent layers of orange marmalade, kumquat and apricot aromas blend seamlessly with caramel and marzipan flavors to create an intense and complex wine with an endless finish. Rich, honeyed sweetness is balanced by perfect acidity.
In 2001, we handpicked the Botrytis-affected clusters from our Wappo Hill Vineyard in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District AVA when the sugar levels in the shriveled grapes reached about 40%. Due to the fungus’ dehydrating effect, the grapes become quite concentrated resulting in a wine with great flavor intensity.
The noble rot, Botrytis cinerea, is responsible for the great Sauternes of France, as well as the Beerenauslesen and Trockenbeerenauslesen of Germany, and the Tokaji in Hungary. Damp nights followed by dry, breezy afternoons allow the Botrytis cinerea to flourish and cause the grape to concentrate flavors and sugars while maintaining high levels of acidity. Because of the dry Mediterranean climate of the Napa Valley, we rarely experience the conditions for Botrytis cinerea to develop; so, in most years, we take great measures to create our own Botrytis spores, encouraging growth with mist and warmth around the vines. When our Sauvignon Blanc grapes located in our Stags Leap vineyard, Wappo Hill, reach ideal maturity, we harvest the vast majority for dry wine, but we leave a few select areas of vines that show a propensity for Botrytis fungus development. We use sprinklers at night to increase the humidity within the vine canopy (under the leaves and canes). We closely monitor the noble rot progress and drop any clusters affected by undesirable molds. When the grapes reach optimum concentration, we begin harvesting in stages to select the best clusters infected with the fungus, typically passing through the vineyard several times. This may require several trips throughout the vineyard over a couple weeks. Botrytis harvest typically happens in the month of November.
After gently pressing the grapes as whole clusters, we fermented the juice in 60-gallon French oak barrels (60% new) to give the wine complexity and depth. The wine fermented slowly for two months until it reached 12% alcohol, at which time the yeast activity naturally stopped, leaving a residual sugar of 18.1%. We aged the wine on the yeast lees (sur lie) and gently hand-stirred each barrel once a month, to increase the creamy texture of the wine, during the 16 months of barrel aging.
76% Sauvignon Blanc / 24% Semillon