We began with a meticulous wine selection –vetting the world’s major Sauvignon blanc regions with an eye for regional distinction, exceptional quality and availability, of course. (Unfortunately, I was on the road and missed much of this difficult work!)
These are the wines that were decided upon:
2011 Greywacke Sauvignon blanc, Marlborough, paired with the Fiddlehead 2011 Goosebury Sauvignon blanc, Santa Ynez Valley.
2008 Alphonse Mellot Pouilly-Fumé par Emmanuelle Mellot, paired with the Fiddlehead 2009 Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara Sauvignon blanc, Santa Ynez Valley.
2008 Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac Leognan, paired with the Fiddlehead 2007 Hunnysuckle Sauvignon blanc, Santa Ynez Valley.
The tasting was fantastic. Nearly 50 people participated, many with personal tasting connections to one or more of the International regions featured. The pairings were spectacular – both for their contrasts and for their similarities!
All three of the Fiddlehead wines are produced from our grapes grown in the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA, the part of the Santa Ynez Valley with the warmest daytime temperatures. This region is quite unique for its ability to fully ripen our Sauvignon blanc fruit while preserving the acidity and freshness due to that ever-present evening coastal fog. Pear and white peach notes take center stage, with rich floral and tropical fruit notes provide layering in a most seductive way.
On the first flight, the New Zealand wine showed layers of wet slate and herbaceousness, whereas the Goosebury’s minerality was more limestone in character and the fruit much more expressive and floral. Both had striking acidity, but the luscious fruit notes of Goosie stood out markedly.
The Loire pairing with the Happy Canyon was more enlightening. Both wines had a richness that was quite alluring, with the Pouilly-Fume showing more melon and green bell pepper and the Happy Canyon centering on the peachy-pear. Great pairing, and testament to our assertion that the Happy Canyon is truly inspired by the wines of the Loire!
The wine pairing of the night was the third, with the ’08 Larrivet Haut-Brion showing many of the well developed characteristics that we celebrate in the Hunnysuckle. Still with vibrant fruit and acidity, both wines have developed well in the bottle and showed a glycerin-y richness with nuance of fig, citrus, and dried herbs. It was a coin flip as to which I liked better, until I looked at the retail price. The Bordeaux retails for $80 and the Hunnysuckle for $34!
It’s amazing that we take winemaking options and vintage variablility to craft 3 unique wines grown in this very special place. More significantly, I am awed with the creativity and willingness of the Fiddlehead team to “stick our necks out” and show these wines along side the great SB regions of the world. This event served to entertain, to enlighten and educate our friends who attended. I’m certain each will remember the evening for many years to come.
One additional out-of-the-box twist was the second phase taste pairing of our 3 styles of dry Sauvignon blanc with Talenti gelatos and sorbettos. Typically we don’t think of our wines as dessert wines, but the range of gelato flavors made for a fabulous tasting. Here were the favorite picks, and worth checking out for yourself!
- Goosebury Sauvignon blanc and Lisbon Lemon
- Happy Canyon Sauvignon blanc and Mediterranean Mint Chip (This one blew me away!)
- Hunnysuckle Sauvignon blanc and Tahitian Vanilla
National Sales Manager