Sauvignon Blanc, Californian style, is unrecognisable from the New Zealand Malborough Sauvignon Blanc we are so used to drinking here. Winemaker Stuart Rusted had gently warned about this when the Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 was poured, at a tasting of wines from Treasury Wine Estates at Graze, Hilton KL, recently.
While our palate is so used to the distinctive aroma and character of NZ Sauvignon Blanc, I took a shine to this wine that’s richer on the palate, with sweet tropical fruit. It was soft, smooth and crisp, with a long finish. The wine is from the Beringer winery in Napa Valley, that dates back 140 years.
Treasury Wine Estates is one of the world’s largest wine companies, with 10 wineries and 47 vineyards in the Napa Valley totalling 12,000 acres. It has a portfolio of premium, award-winning wine brands such as Beringer Vineyards, Beaulieu Vineyard (BV), Sterling and Stags’ Leap.
Winemaker Stuart Rusted
The Sterling winery was started by an Englishman in the 1960s, hence the Sterling (silver hallmark) name. It produces modern contemporary wines. The Sterling Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay 2015 was crisp with citrus and apple, with a layered texture and complexity. It was most pleasing and easy to drink. “The chardonnay fruit is from Napa and further south,” said Stuart who is the wine ambassador for TWE. “It has a smoky character from old barrel maturation, that’s not overpowering.”
The Sterling Vintner’s Collection Pinot Noir 2015 released notes of cherry, raspberry, vanilla and tobacco spice. “The pinot is a difficult grape to grow and difficult wine to make,” said Start. I found it a little too tannic.
The Stags’ Leap winery lies to the cooler south of Napa and is one of the oldest wine estates here, dating back to 1893. We were served the Stags’ Leap Merlot 2014, a rich, intense and structured wine. Soft tannins from maturing in old French oak, dark cherry , blueberry and floral notes with hints of vanilla and cinnamon, prompted us to have a second glass of this superb Merlot. In 2014 California was hit by drought in winter, then heavy rain in early spring, but it still produced an excellent vintage.
We came to the Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. The vineyard was founded in 1900 in Napa Valley by French immigrant Georges de Latour and his wife Fernande. She was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place and uttered “Quelle beau lieu!” (What a beautiful place!), hence the name.
Beaulieu wines have long been served at White House functions and god knows whether Trump has done away with this practice as well. President Ronald Reagan was said to favour Beaulieu Vineyard’s Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
Back to the BV Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, which has blackberries and cherries layered with oak spice. “It’s more structured, with a leafy character,” said Stuart. It’s also richer with a distinctive sweetness, but I’m told Californians like it that way.
The Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 was worth taking note of. It is made with fruit from a range of vineyards across Napa Valley, from the best barrels. “It has rich dark fruit, intense expression, with a soft ripe character.” It was definitely a step up from the BV Cabernet Sauvigon.
The tasting of wines dove in with the food at Graze: Caesar Salad, New Zealand sirloin with peppercorn sauce (a great choice of main course) and an exquisite Valrhona chocolate cremeux, passionfruit sauce. The Treasury Estate Wines are distributed by Luen Heng F&B Sdn Bhd. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 03-9173 0398.