Domestic: Sauvignon Blanc, 1985, Sam J. Sebastini Winery

A new California winery with an old name appeared on the horizon in 1986. This is not the giant Sebastiani Vineyards in Sonoma of jug wine fame! (and some occasional premi­um wines worth considering). This is Sam J., the grandson of the foun­der, who has struck out for himself.

Sam was raised with wine. He knows the business inside out. His dad taught him well. He also learnt all the good things an MBA degree bestows upon one. On the death of his father, he took over as president of the family winery, but soon found that his management style was in direct conflict with what his moth­er wanted. (She must have said “no”… and he must have said “yes”… too many times). So as chairman of the board, she fired him… and Sam left.

Now Sam is out doing “his own thing”… and he is doing it well.

His first release is a super wine, and the ones coming down the pike look equally as good.

“It is my intention” explained Sam, “to make wines using the best Napa and Sonoma regions offer, and blending them to a style I feel brings out the best of these two great appel­lations. A new style of wine, if you please.”

Sam has plans to build an Italian villa-style winery in the Sonoma Valley, and chances are add some vineyards to his operation. He will be producing limited quantities of just three premium wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sau­vignon Blanc. I bring you his first release.

At present Sam is buying grapes from 10 select wine grape farmers in Napa and Sonoma. He uses Napa grapes for backbone and body, and Sonoma grapes for floweriness and forward character in his wines.

Sauvignon blanc is the premier white grape of Bordeaux. It produc­es a dry wine around the region of Graves that has become the standard that winemakers all over the world have tried to emulate. Typically, the aroma developed from the grape has a herbaceous character, and the taste tends to have pleasant grassiness to it along with a crisp acidity.

Sam has made a classical sauvignon blanc. One to remember in your pal­ate memory, to compare others by. The wine is straw yellow in color. It has a distinct herbaceous aroma, with fruit behind it. Green apples come through on swirling. Long and intense aroma. The taste shows a full body, dry, with a pleasant flavor of green apples switching to some grassiness. Rich extractives. A crisp acid balance stays with you and clos­es the taste. Serve chilled, with poul­try dishes or with soft cheese as brie.


Cellaring Notes: Will mellow and complex for 2 to 4 years.

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