We've mentioned Chad Alexander before. His stunning Cabernets for Robert Craig from Spring Mountain, Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder, along with his many consulting projects, have placed this young winemaker high on the list of California's up-and-comers. A compelling reason for Chad's success has been his intimate knowledge of Napa Valley's most interesting vineyard sites. His first release of Carl Roy Sauvignon Blanc comes from one of these sites, a small vineyard on the back side of Howell Mountain.
Howell Mountain is well established for producing some of the best Cabernets in the world, so we were a little perplexed when Chad invited us to taste the first vintage of Carl Roy Sauvignon Blanc. Taken from the eastern flank of Howell Mountain, Chad explained that the site was perfect for tight, high-acid Sauvignon. Not only does the location benefit from ancient river bedrock and the gravelly soils typical of Howell Mountain, it is also uniquely situated to absorb early morning sun and early evening shade, making it an enviable parcel of land for producing grapes with increased acid concentration.
Chad's focus in the winery was on preserving that natural acidity. Whole clusters were pressed, keeping the acids from being 'pressed out', while 65% of the fruit was fermented in stainless steel and just 35% in two-year-old French barrels. These older barrels do not impart any woodiness, but instead provide additional texture.
The Carl Roy Sauvignon Blanc is superb on the nose, possessing rich grapefruit and tropical fruits more characteristic of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc than the typical California variety that can seem flabby and overwrought. Guava, apple, and crisp minerality dominate the palate, with a lush and refreshing mouthfeel. This is an absolutely stellar first vintage of a fascinating new offering from one of Napa's sharpest winemakers.
Try the Carl Roy Sauvignon Blanc with this combination: Sauteed Garlicky Prawns, Spanish Black Rice and a Fresh Corn & Tomato Salad.