WINE REVIEW: Groth 2019 Estate White, Oakville, Napa Valley CA ($50)
by Andrew Chalk
Yes, you read that right. A white wine from famed Napa Cabernet Sauvignon maker, Groth. And an estate wine at that. It became possible from a 1994 replanting of the east side of their estate with Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. That went into this wine in the proportions 79% Sauvignon Blanc, 21% Sémillon to produce a paltry 365 cases. It will be sold only directly at and by the winery (order from the web site) and there is little doubt that it will sell out.
Winemaking followed the practice of a whole cluster pressing and then fermentation and ageing in second-fill Acacia and neutral French oak barrels, stainless-steel tanks, and concrete egg. Three months ageing was sur lie and then the components were combined and aged three months blended. No malolactic fermentation was allowed.
Note the completely heterodox winemaking here by Cameron Perry, Director of Winegrowing, and his staff. Who uses Acacia wood nowadays? It is not unheard of, but still very rare. And why split the must between four different fermentation and ageing media? Each would produce a very different wine that would be modulated by the final blend. Even blending in Sémillon with the Sauvignon Blanc is rare in California, which annoys white Bordeaux lovers like myself. The softness and roundness imparted by the Sémillon was palpable and contributed to my overall assessment that this is a very refined wine.
Normally I taste and then cork wines that I try (saving the liver for another day) but this one I kept to serve with fleshy fish in beurre blanc sauce at dinner that night. Worth the money.