Domestic Selection: Sauvignon Blanc, 1991. Winterbrook

How do you successfully intro­duce a new line of wines in a super competitive environment in the middle of a recession? That was the challenge facing the new Win­terbrook partnership in early 1992.

Though the winery was esta­blished in 1983, early 1992 marked a new era for the fledging facility. John Sullivan, Gregory Popovich and Joe Briggs teamed up to restructure the entity and have come into the market place with a fresh attitude and direction.

The financial partner, John Sul­livan, brings 14 years of business and agricultural experience. Greg Popovich, the marketing director, has 12 years experience marketing for La Crema and Lost Hills win­eries. Joe Briggs, partner and winemaker, has a degree in enolo­gy from Fresno State and has “one of the top 100 Chardonnays of all time” as a credit to his name. This motivated group of individuals has set out with a list of objectives to re-establish the Winterbrook winery.

The main objectives of this res­urrection are these:

1.) Produce premium varietal wines from the finest regions of the Napa and Sonoma Counties that would retail for half the com­petitions.

2.) Implement a quality control program that would not only meet but surpass the quality of every competing wine in their class.

So far this basic strategy is working and exceeding the initial expectations. I, for one, am a be­liever in the concept and if this wine is indicative of what is to come, we’re in for some very nice wines.

Sauvignon Blanc is native to the Bordeaux region of France. There it produces exquisite dry wines of complexity and finesse. But don’t let the grape fool you, it is also re­sponsible for 20% of what is coined “liquid gold” from Chateau Y’quem (a winery dedicated to late-harvest dessert wines). In Cal­ifornia, the grape carries a stigma of a grassy character but produces elegant wines of many flavors.

Our selection shows a light straw color, brilliant and clear. The 100% Sonoma County fruit shows through the nose with ripe melon and pears. The oak is obvious but not overdone. Grassy does not show here. The body is full and the flavors consistent with the nose. I really enjoy the finish, crisp with lingering melon and va­nilla flavors.

Serve chilled with mild fishes sauteed in garlic and butter sauce or a chicken pasta with olive oil and garlic.

Cellaring notes: Delicious now; drink through 1994.

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