California Insider’s Michelin-Star White
Today’s 2017 Picayune Sauvignon Blanc is the wine-world equivalent of a double-edged sword. On one, extremely sharp side, it is an aromatic stunner, bursting with layers of lime, grapefruit, tart peach, pear, and honeyed white floral notes. On the other side, a razor-sharp edge is a metaphor for the unbelievably precise, meticulously-cared for vineyard sources in Napa and Sonoma, which are kept behind a razor-sharp barbed-wire NDA fence.
Most of the 2017 Picayune will be snapped up here in Napa by dedicated local drinkers and French-born proprietor Claire Weinkauf’s inner circle. Because of our ongoing relationship with Claire, Wine Access members come first. We secured 100 cases, offered at the best price in the nation—$19.99 on case-buys.
But take a walk with us, will you…?
Next time you’re in St. Helena, turn off Highway 29 and take a drive down Madrona Ave. Stop at the intersection of Madrona and Hudson, park, and start walking west along Madrona, toward the towering Mayacamas. Take water and apply plenty of sunscreen, and follow a lengthy loop, on Riesling Way, to Sylvaner, back to Hudson. On Madrona, you’ll be flanked on either side by some epic vineyards—ones we’ve mentioned in previous missives. Be sure to take this walk in late August or early September, when ripe, plump grapes are hanging on the vines—and nab a berry or two. These are the delicious grapes that Napa insiders and locals know about, where deals for top-flight fruit are made friend-to-friend, with a handshake.
That’s the spirit of Picayune, which Wine Enthusiast singled out as a producer of “small-lot, affordable wines”—an oxymoron in the realm of top-tier Napa Valley bottlings. Claire’s juicy and over-delivering 2017 Picayune Sauvignon Blanc is made from declassified Sauvignon Blanc from big-name vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. Claire also has the option of picking the brain of her husband Aron, who crafts Spottswoode’s legendary Bordeaux-style Sauvignon Blanc, also from a combination of Napa and Sonoma fruit.
Like we said, Picayune has a barbed-wire NDA wrapped around its fruit source, but Claire has some pretty good connections in and around that loop you might walk, there along the backroads of St. Helena. After all, her deep Napa ties have grown extremely strong since she moved to the Valley in 2006. Vintage in and out, she quietly scores over-achieving fruit from some of the area’s top vineyards. We really can’t say any more, and maybe we’ve said too much.
The 2014 and 2016 vintages landed on The French Laundry’s lofty list, but with the 2017 vintage, has escaped and today is your chance to bring a little Napa “insider” beauty home to your dinner table.