Monday, August 22, 2011

2010 Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, A New Release.

You can definitely tell it's summertime in Wine Blogger Land, most of us are getting lots of sauvignon blanc samples. In this blog I'm going to feature the 2010 Napa Cellars sauvignon blanc from you guessed it, Napa Valley. The Napa Cellars brand is relatively new, I believe I tasted this label's selections at the Family Winemakers tasting in March of this year. That being said, the 2010 sauvignon blanc was released in June so it probably wasn't part of the lineup.

The fruit is sourced from some of the warmer regions of Napa Valley, those being Rutherford, Calistoga, and St. Helena. As such, we can infer that the 2010 Napa Cellars will be a richer, riper style when compared to an offering from New Zealand or France. This blogger still isn't sure if he likes the Napa Valley expression as much as that of Sancerre or even Marlborough. Still, to continue to offer wines that you, gentle reader, might be interested in, I happily accepted this sample.

Right away the nose is filled with tropical fruit, freshly cut grass, and just a hint of lime juice. I smelled loads of passion fruit and guava nectar with a hint of pineapple. A veritable "fruit salad" if you will. While some professional (read: paid) critics decry that way of describing wines, if a wine smells like tropical fruit, I'm gonna post it.

The fruit salad aroma set isn't a bad thing, I think winemaker Joe Shirley did a good job balancing those sweeter fruit aromas with the grass and lime notes that temper any tendency towards over-ripeness. He strove for balance and very nearly achieved it.

As usual, I let the Napa Cellars sauvignon blanc warm up a bit before I tasted. I found it to be typically Californian, lots of sweet tropical fruit balanced out by a drying acidity. There was a fun theme of grapefruit and guava at play with just a bit of something like orange blossom too, which I found fascinating. Despite being fermented in 100% stainless steel, there's a familiar rich body that I associate with Napa Valley grown fruit.

That "Napa fatness" lent itself to a bit of a sloppy finish, with the wine seemingly confused as to what it should do. On one hand I wanted a clean, crisp finish befitting the varietal, yet the Napa Cellars sauvignon blanc seemed to get flabby on the mid palate before just vanishing. The flab I attribute to the 14.3% alcohol, and my familiar refrain is "that's too much!!!".

On a hot summer day, eating lighter foods, the last thing I want is a sauvignon blanc with as much alcohol as a Napa Valley cabernet or (nowadays) a Cotes du Rhone. That right there is my biggest gripe with the 2010 Napa Cellars sauvignon blanc. It did shine with the nicely balanced tropical fruit and citrus elements but just fell apart on the finish, perhaps because of that high alcohol creating too much flabby weight. I suppose that's just how I experience a lot of Napa Valley sauvignon blanc. This is a solid wine, a B- and a BUY recommendation if you're into the more "full-bodied" style. If not, I don't think you will enjoy this wine, that's just how it goes. At around $15 the 2010 Napa Cellars sauvignon blanc is very affordable and the QPR is solid, if unremarkable.

This wine was sent as a media sample for review purposes.

Beau Carufel


  1. I enjoyed reading this post! Thanks for sharing. I'm actually not very well acquainted with Sauvignon Blanc, and am not sure that I would have access to this wine in stores in the Northwest, and would love some recommendations around the same price range. I also have a wine blog and like to review a broad range of wines.

  2. Hey Kelsey, thanks for commenting and for reading :-) What kinds of sauvignon blancs do you like, California, French, Italian, New Zealand? Luckily for us, there are tons of options. A quick list of the ones I've reviewed to date is here: but beware of some of the duds, ones that just didn't excite me. If you want, tweet me or email me and we can talk more about sauv. blancs. Nice blog btw!