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A toast to Sauvignon Blanc day

Wine gathering: More than 50 producers of sauvignon blanc from California, France and New Zealand gathered in Kelseyville, California for a grand tasting last month

May 4 was International Sauvignon Blanc Day. It was appropriate then, that on the following day, more than 50 producers of this wine from California, France and New Zealand gathered in the town of Kelseyville for a grand tasting.

This community of slightly more than 3,000 people is in Lake County, California — the lake in its midst is the oldest in the USA.

Vineyards were first planted here, north of Napa Valley, in the 1870s and by 1900 it was producing very fine wines. Comments at the May 5 event suggested that this area is perfectly suited for producing fine sauvignon blanc.

One of our most frequent visitors, Kaj Ahlmann, owns, with his family, the Six Sigma Ranch and Winery. We had lunch together here on June 1 and I expect that he will be back well before the summer is over. This is what he says about their Lake County property: “When we acquired the land in the year 2000, the 4,300-acre cattle ranch stood out as a place that could fulfil our dreams of sustainable farming and grape-growing, while still maintaining all of the natural beauty that comes with it.

“We developed the ranch with nature in mind, integrating small vineyard blocks with the native vegetation and providing corridors for the wildlife. A conservation easement donated to the Golden State Land Conservancy protects for eternity the habitat of deer, bobcat, turkey, wild pig, bear and other wildlife.

“We make many of our farming decisions based on what we learn from the natural forests that sprawl across our ranch. In those forests, trees grow tall and beautiful without any fertilisers and they are not bothered by insects or disease. The ecosystem is in perfect harmony and our goal is to copy this deep-rooted balance in the vineyards.

“The vineyard floor is a biodiverse masterpiece, managed by a hard-working flock of sheep. They mow the cover crop of grass and clover while simultaneously fertilising as they return to the soil the carbon and nitrogen that would have been lost into the atmosphere with more conventional farming methods.”

I can attest to it being a beautiful property to visit.

We presently stock Six Sigma Asbill 2015 Sauvignon Blanc that shows aromas of Meyer lemon and soft pink grapefruit that lead to fruity flavours of passion fruit, mandarin orange and pear, with a clean and crisp acidity on the finish. Wine Enthusiast magazine rates it a very respectable 89/100. I like the comment of one critic about the 2014 vintage: “This wine is like a sancerre that left France and went to Hollywood.” $19.90.

Another producer of highly respected sauvignon blanc is my friend Pascal Jolivet who I have known since the 1980s when he started his Loire Valley winery. Over the years, Pascal has developed his own much recognisable pure and elegant style of wines. He practices biodynamic winemaking, which, in viticultural terms, views the farm as a cohesive, interconnected living system; such practices extend from the vineyard to the careful handling of the fruit post-harvest in the winery. Following harvest, vinification begins with light must settling followed by juice fermentation with indigenous yeasts; next maturation on lees is fundamental for the concentration and the complexity of all Jolivet wines.

The process is extremely natural and the slow fermentations nourish and sustainably stabilise the wines using very low levels of sulphur. Pascal Jolivet 2016 Sancerre is pale and vibrant in colour and it is bright and clean with racy acidity. On the palate it is fresh and tightly wound; acidity is tempered by very subtle residual sugar; very clean, alive and youthful. Overall, a dry and elegant wine. $30.30.

The third country at the Kelseyville event was New Zealand and we presently list 12 of their sauvignon blanc’s, but Seresin was one of our first and it remains one of the finest. Blended from several parcels of sauvignon blanc from across three different vineyard sites, as well as a small amount of Sémillon, the 2016 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect example of the Seresin style. Subtle on the nose with vibrant notes of ripe yellow stone-fruit, soft passion fruit and a chalky-mineral complexity. The palate is layered and finely textured, with ripe gooseberry, tropical and citrus notes framed by a mouth-watering acidity, which creates a persistent finish.

To quote their website: “We farm biodynamically. This means we work in harmony with seasonal, earthly and celestial rhythms. Our wines therefore express a sense of time, with wines from each harvest subtly different from its predecessor. We keep the vines healthy by feeding the soil with animal manure composts and spraying the vine leaves with teas made from local herbs and minerals. We put more back into the land than we take out. As a result, our wines express an ever-stronger sense of place. We see the vineyard as a living organism, a space that our workers, animals and wild birds, flowers, worms and insects can share. Our wines express this sense of life and harmony.” $26.05.

So here we offer you three wines from people that honour and respect our beautiful planet and I have the feeling that they will leave it in pristine condition, and possibly even improve it for future generations.

They do make other wines and the same care is given to Six Sigma Diamond Mine Red Cuvée, Pascal Jolivet Pouilly Fumé and Seresin Pinot Noir, which are $33.30, $30.30 and $30.15, respectively.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit wineonline.bm