A few weeks ago, I reviewed a pair of Wente Vineyards reds and, the best of my winey ability, talked about the difference between a single vineyard wine and an estate grown wine. (Winey Tasting Notes: A Pair of Wente Reds, A Few New Wine Words) And I'm going to do it again this week, because I happen to have another pair of Wente wines waiting in the wings (how's that for alliteration?). This time they are a red and a white as well as one of them being single vineyard and the other being estate grown.
We'll start with the estate grown wine, Wente's Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (2013, 13.5%, CA), and as you may have deduced already, it comes from vineyards that are located along the southern hills of the Livermore Valley. Were you paying attention two weeks ago? Ok, then, what does "estate grown" mean in wine speak? If you said that it means the grapes were all grown on land owned by the winery and then made into wine by the same winery, you are right. If not, go back and read it again. There's another quiz coming.
The wine opens with a nose of black cherry and black plum. It tastes of dark, rich stone fruit in the middle and is surrounded by a touch of oak and a hint of dark green spice. It finishes up long and smooth and rich. This is a classic Cabernet Sauvignon with all the good things about that varietal and none of the bad. For the record, it is blended with other wines, so it's 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 9% Petite Sirah, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Merlot. The Merlot adds to the richness of the fruit tastes and the Malbec gives it some nice heft. A great wine, estate grown or wherever.
Now on to the single vineyard wine, Wente's Riva Ranch Chardonnay (2013, 13.5%, CA). Here's your quiz: under U.S. law, how much of a wine has to be from the same vineyard in order to call it a single vineyard? Did you say 95%? Good. If not, see my above comment on re-reading. Let me start out by saying that I am placing Riva Ranch on my go-to Chardonnay list. I absolutely loved this wine! It's a light golden yellow color that smells like pear and apple and brown spices. It tasted of crisp oak, pear, apple, vanilla and cinnamon. The finish is crisp and lively. This wine feels so smooth, and if you read up on it, as I did, you'll discover that Wente performs battonage (stirring the wine in its barrels) every three weeks. Wente says this adds to the creaminess of the wine. I agree. That smooth, creamy mouth feel is fantastic! There's a high note of acidity above it all (10% is aged in stainless steel) that keeps it from being cloying and makes it so full of layered flavors that you just can't resist it. I am thrilled to have found this one!
So now we've had two lessons on estate grown and single vineyard. And have found four great wines. A little education is a very good thing, is it not? Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find some more Riva Ranch Chardonnay.
I was given this wine for review purposes. The opinions are my own.