94 Points, Reviewed by Michael Rockich, AppellationsTen.com, November 29, 2020
Recently we were fortunate to have reviewed the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from Gamble Family Vineyards. We really liked that wine! Today we are reviewing their 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, and it has proved to be just as exceptional! The main standouts of Gamble’s Sauvignon Blanc are its razor-like precision, high intensity, and excellent balance, which all add to its outstanding quality.
I sense a certain denseness or firmness in this white wine that I like. I think it helps distinguish this wine and adds to its character. My readers may have picked up on a discussion taking place in the winegrowing community regarding the potential need for tannin in white wines. I don’t sense tannic grit in this wine, but perhaps this Sauv Blanc signals a direction.
I am not alone when I say that I believe biodiversity is a good thing. We have lost too much of it already in the world due to several reasons which include economies of scale in mass agriculture, and occasionally due to trends. We must safeguard biodiversity and treasure uniqueness in nature. Sauvignon Blanc has a very distinct, memorable varietal character. We need to keep that character in Sauvignon Blanc wine, and Gamble’s has it.
I have noticed a trend in some Sauvignon Blanc wine of the recent past to deemphasize that special character. Thant’s a loss. If the producers deprive the wine of its defining identity and character, what’s left? British wine writer Oz Clarke, who appears to have had a very active education at Oxford, including captaining their wine tasting team, shares an opinion similar to mine. He said in his book, Grapes & Wines (paraphrasing), a “furious fistfight” might occur between he and anyone seeking to take Sauvignon Blanc down a bland path as opposed to celebrating its unique and invigorating character!
Although Oz’s words are likely in jest, he clearly believes in his thesis just as I do. Trends occur and there are followers, all normal and good. But taking care to preserve the rich heritage of nature’s diversity yields illumination and opportunities.
The 2019 grapes were hand-harvested cold, in the early hours from Gamble’s 20-acre sustainably farmed vineyard on the northerly edge of the Yountville Appellation in Napa Valley’s geographic center. Four clones of Sauvignon Blanc are used in this wine. Two are originally from France’s Loire region, Sauvignon Musque and Clone 530, and are accompanied by two clones originating from Bordeaux, the Preston and Clone 316. Composition is 39% Musque, 11% Clone 530, 30% Preston Clone, and 20% Clone 316.
Over ten days Gamble’s crew made six picking passes through the vines. This effort gave multiple benefits including crisp acidity from early passes, and more depth of flavor from later picks. To increase complexity, Gamble fermented 25% of the fruit in temperature-controlled stainless yielding clean bright fruit flavors, while 75% was fermented in barrel, producing greater mouthfeel. Native yeasts were used on both.
The wine displays dazzling white gold in color with hues of platinum and gold. Great impact! Vibrant with high acidity, compellingly invigorating, laser-focused, yet round on the palate! Exceptionally harmonious, which is one of the key components of a great wine. Well cut, zesty, and long! Really an impressive wine!
Delivers aromas of gooseberries, nettles, characteristic volatile thiols, ocean air, and a note of dry grass. Intense on the palate delivering lime zest, kiwi, and crushed stone. As I said before about their 2017, Gamble’s 2019 could easily be a guideline for contemporary Sauvignon Blanc. A true yardstick for vinified Sauvignon!
A sample for review
(1) Credit all photos to Gamble Family Vineyards.