This special wine celebrates the decadence of botrytis (noble rot), and the deliciously complex orange marmalade, honey and marzipan flavors that it creates. Together with caramelized red apples, nuts, brown sugar, nougat, buttery crust, and a lively orange zest, this is one of our most luxurious sweet wines.
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Botrytis cinerea, called noble rot because of the incredibly complex flavors it adds to a wine, is responsible for the most prestigious sweet wines of the world including France's Sauternes; Germany's Beerenauslese (BA) and Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA); and Hungary's Tokaji Aszu. Damp mornings followed by dry, breezy afternoons allow botrytis to flourish, and cause the grapes to shrivel. This raisining concentrates the sugars and flavors for a luscious texture and rich flavor. Due to Napa Valley's dry, Mediterranean climate, we rarely experience the humid conditions needed for botrytis to develop, so we take great measures to create just the right microclimate for the noble rot to develop. When our Sauvignon Blanc grapes reach ideal maturity, we harvest the vast majority for our dry wine, and leave a few select vine rows that show a propensity for noble rot. We use sprinklers at night to increase the humidity within the vine canopy (under the leaves and canes) and closely monitor the grapes so they can be harvested at optimum concentration. Pickings take place in numerous stages; harvesting just those clusters that are perfectly affected with botrytis. Our botrytis harvest generally happens in the month of November.
In 2002 we handpicked the botrytis-affected clusters from our Wappo Hill Vineyard in Napa Valley's Stags Leap District AVA as the clusters reached a sugar level of 40%. Due to the fungus' dehydrating effect, the grapes were richly concentrated with pronounced flavor intensity. After gently pressing the grapes as whole clusters, we ferment the juice in 60-gallon French oak barrels (13% 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 16.1%. 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 19 months of barrel aging.