We used two clones of Sauvignon Blanc, one of which, the Musque clone, is most noted for its floral qualities. To add to the richness and complexity of our estate white wine, we have planted a few acres of Semillon and a few vines of Muscadelle du Bordelais next to the Sauvignon Blanc and also trained to vertical gobelet on the meter spacing.
This dense planting of over 4,000 vines per acre is unique for Sauvignon blanc in the Napa Valley. The labor intensive gobelet training is virtually unknown in California, but is the absolute ultimate in training technique for wine quality. We will only need to put a few clusters on each grape vine to get an optimum crop level for the vineyard. We think our optimum quality will be found in the 3 to 3 1/2 ton per acre level, or about six cluster per vine.
Beginning with the 2000 harvest the wine will be a blend of these three grape varieties.
Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle ripen early, Semillon a little later. We harvest our white grapes when the flavors show up; picking date is determined by taste. The mature grapes are hand harvested, brought to the winery in small bins, and put in the press without crushing or de-stemming. Clean clear juice is settled overnight then transferred to French oak barrels, half brand new, where fermentation occurs. The wines remain on their fermentation lees until just before bottling. No malolactic organisms are added, the lees are stirred periodically.
The wines stay on the lees until the next vintage approaches. In the late summer the wines are carefully racked from the barrel and assembled for bottling. Our objective is to bottle the wine without filtration if we feel safe regarding microbial stability. Because we make the wines in a natural fashion the wines have natural flora of wine microorganisms. If we see Brettanomyces, malolactic bacteria or other such natural wine flora in a larger than normal population, we may choose to conduct a gentle pad filtration.
Our overall objective is to make the wine as simply as possible so as not to detract from the wonderful qualities that come into the wine from the Fig Tree vineyard block. We want the subtle terrain of this unique vineyard to remain in the aroma and flavor for the life of the wine.