Terroir Review: 2017 Reviews

2017 “Annia” White Wine – Annia is a blended wine constituted of a little over half Ribolla Gialla, a little less than half Tocai Friulano, and a small portion of Chardonnay, fermented in mostly used French oak. The Chardonnay hails from the Hyde Vineyard in Carneros, where Massican pulls fruit for its varietal bottling, while the Ribolla and Tocai come from vineyards in Oak Knoll, Chiles Valley, and Russian River, where it’s miraculous these varieties are grown at all.

The wine is soft, with a demure and velvety texture, and the palate expression is uncannily like just-ripe apricot, with its bare fruit flavors and evocations of sunshine. This is not a citrusy wine, not lemony or tropical, not even very fruity. It earns its merits instead from the complexity of its aromatics (herbs, salt, summer breeze), texture (saline), and distant finish (more of same, plus something minty-savory).

Serve it at about 55°F to 60°F, which lets it relax into an accessible loose-jointedness, and pair it with nuanced, light-handed cuisine — nothing too salty or rich or strident: mild young cow’s milk cheese, white-fleshed fish or shellfish, poached chicken, chickpeas with olive oil and mint.

2017 “Hyde” Chardonnay – Massican winemaker Dan Petroski sources Chardonnay for his bottling from the Hyde Vineyard in cool Carneros. In 2017 he harvested the fruit at 22.4° Brix and barrel-fermented it in 100 percent new French oak. But he doesn’t let the wine go through malolactic fermentation, so the overall effect both shimmery and structured. It’s not quite satiny, more like dupioni silk, with its nubs and texture, its intriguing sheen, its deeper visual interest.

Sunny and even-keeled, luminous and balanced, it’s a wine that feels inspired more by Burgundy than Chablis. It’s always one of my favorite California Chardonnays.

2017 Sauvignon Blanc – Massican’s varietal Sauvignon Blanc was grown in Napa’s Juiliana and Pope Valley vineyards, harvested at 22.3° Brix, whole-cluster pressed, and barrel-fermented in two-thirds stainless steel and one-third oak. Malolactic fermentation was suppressed.

The wine lacks the assertive gooseberry and green-fruited aromatics that characterize much New World Sauvignon Blanc, its fragrance angling instead toward green tea, lily of the valley, spearmint, and honeydew. Texturally it feels, at first, silken and sheer, like a piece of thin yellow cloth hung in sunlight on a clear, cool day. Its flavors wash between clean citrus fruit and wet stone. As the wine lingers, its sensibility expands and deepens, building toward the monumental, stony savoriness that is a hallmark of the Sauvignon family.

Pair it with raw seafood and white-fleshed fish, goat’s milk cheeses and light salads, baba ganouj, pesto, the aïoli platter. It’s one of the rare wines that’s good with artichokes and avocados.

– Meg Houston Maker

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