Wine with a Purpose
When on a wine tasting trip in Napa Valley, it is easy to get lost in the blur of so much wine. There are vineyards at every turn and tasting rooms for wineries dotting the valley from top to bottom. It is so easy for several wine tasting experiences to blend into a single event. That was not the case for the tasting we had Ehlers Estate. They knocked it out of the park.
Our experience at Ehlers Estate was the first one of the day at ten o’clock in the morning. I am usually still drinking coffee at 10:00 am, but extraordinary experiences call for exceptional measures.
Bernard Ehlers bought a small, dying vineyard in the late 1800s. He replanted the 10-acre plot, added an olive grove and began making wine. In 1886 Ehlers completed the construction of his stone barn that is now the historical and beautiful winery building. He and his family continued to make wine here until they sold the vineyards and winery sometime in the 1920s.
Fast forward another hundred years or so and the estate was purchased by French entrepreneurs and philanthropists Jean and Sylviane Leducq. After their passing, The estate is now operated by the Leducq Foundation an international grant-making organization with a focus on cardiovascular and neurovascular research.
Talk about wine with a purpose. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these wines are returned to the foundation to support their efforts in cardiovascular research.
What Makes Ehlers Estate Unique
Several unique features are specific to Ehlers Estate that combined make it a one of a kind winemaking operation here in Northern California.
- The estate is 42 contiguous acres which is a common practice in France but very rare in California. (39 acres planted)
- It is also 100% certified organic and uses biodynamic farming and winemaking practices.
- Geographically, it’s location is the narrowest point in the valley which makes for a unique microclimate.
- Additionally, the vineyard manager, as well as all of his workers, are full-time employees of Ehlers Estates. This is also rare in California.
- And lastly, every employee of the estate is 100% responsible for a row of vines. From bud break to harvest to winter pruning, this row is their responsibility which provides a “hands in the land” experience for everyone from the back office, the tasting room, and the management. No one is excluded from this responsibility which according to Charlotte ties them all together as a team.
We were a group of five for this tasting including Gary and I as well as three of our friends and fellow bloggers, Amber and David Burke from Wine Travel Eats and Rupal Shankar from Journeys of a Syrah Queen. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Charlotte who would be our hostess for the tour and tasting experience. We began with a tour starting in the vineyard, through the fermentation room, then to the barrel room and finally the tasting room.
The Tasting Part 1
As we took our places, Amber told us how she wanted to include the Ehlers Estate “Sylviane” Rosé of Cabernet Franc in an article she had written but was unable to get an allocation. Sadly for Amber and us, they were no longer offering the rosé in the tasting room. Each year they make 200 cases of this wine, named for Mrs. Laduqc. It is wildly popular and is typically sold out within the first month. So I made a note to myself to reach out early next Spring.
Ehlers Estate 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, St. Helena, Napa Valley
We began with the only white wine made here at Ehlers, a Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is single-vineyard and terroir-driven*. It is aged for six months sur lie providing a rich and creamy texture to the body of this extraordinary wine. (see glossary for terrior and sur lie definition)
I would definitely say this wine is made in California style (versus New Zealand). It is full-bodied, with vibrant and pleasing acidity. And if I may, I would call this a real crowd pleaser in that it fits perfectly for lovers of Sauvignon Blanc but its full body and rich texture provide a bit of heft for those that prefer a Chardonnay.
Side Note: I bought a few bottles and brought them back to Charleston. I did a test. My sister does “not drink” Sauvignon Blanc. She is a Chardonnay drinker. I handed her a glass of this wine and asked her to try it. She liked it and said she could easily see herself drinking this wine.
Nose and Palate
Gary’s first thought is it is refreshing and clean. He notes lime and chalky mineral on the nose. Lime follows to his palate. It is very approachable and a perfect summer cocktail wine. Would also be a great wine with Shrimp Linguini or a Super Crunchy Sushi Roll.
Rick’s first thought: Bright and refreshing with a richness that is not typically found in Sauvignon Blanc. Key lime custard on the nose. Limes and a mild grapefruit come through on the palate. Acidity mellows as I continue to sip. I feel strongly that this wine should please a variety of palates.
Gary and my tasting notes for this bottle are based on our tasting of one of the two bottles we brought home.
We liked this wine so much, as I said above, we brought some home. Available at the winery. $32.00 per bottle.
A New Feature
With that in mind, I will conclude the Ehlers Estate Tasting post next week. In that post, I will discuss the red wines we tasted as well as share some insights from the newly hired winemaker, Laura Díaz Muñoz. Plus a surprise that I can not wait to share with you. Stay tuned folks.
That is all for now.