At first glance, this ethereal Sauvignon Blanc which is described by Mike Bruzus, associate winemaker at Picchetti Winery, as “almost color less, the palest straw” could be mistaken for water. But from the moment your nose comes within a few inches of the glass, there’s a rush of aromas, a jumble of fragrance that includes pink grapefruit, pineapple, gooseberry, honeydew melon, guava, lychee and mineral notes of wet rocks and saline. A precursor of what’s to come when you taste it and a certain indicator that this isn’t a “simple” wine.
Consulting Winemaker, Craig Roemer sources the Picchetti Sauvignon Blanc from the Cedar Lane Vineyard in the Arroyo Secco AVA. He attributes the complexity and intensity of this wine to a combination of the perfect match between clone and the unique growing conditions there and to attentive winemaking.
The Cedar Lane vineyard began life in the 1980s as a rootstock nursery that was eventually grafted over to Sauvignon Musque, Pinot Noir and Syrah in 2000 when grower and winemaker Mark Chesebro and his partners took it in hand.
According to Chesebro, he and other growers have preserved the Sauvignon Musque clone in Arroyo Secco because, as evidenced by the Picchetti bottling, “it delivers more complex and exciting flavors at a lower brix level than other Sauvignon Blanc clones which are very vegetal until they are over ripe.” Reason enough to persevere with a clone deemed “virused” and unceremoniously removed from the Foundation Plant Services registry.
Flavors of the Best of Show White mirror its aromas but are dialed up, amplified and racy. The wine is instantly mouth coating with layers of acidity from key lime, gooseberry, tart pineapple, candied Meyer lemon, white peach, honeydew and a persistent, citrus-driven finish.
Having stellar raw materials to work with is certainly an advantage but a wine of this caliber can’t exist without the intention of the winemaker. In a serendipitous twist of fate, Bruzus who mowed the lawn and helped in the tasting room at Picchetti while he was in high school returned there as associate winemaker in 2015. A graduate of Cal Poly, San Louis Obispo, he was previously an assistant winemaker at Chamisal Vineyards and for Tooth & Nail Winery making wine from the Murmur Vineyard in Santa Maria and vineyards in Paso Robles.
At Picchetti, The Pantling Family’s primary focus is organically-farmed Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and “Picchetti clone” head trained, dry farmed Zinfandel from vines planted in 1896 by the original Picchetti family on Montebello Road. “We specialize in diversity,” said Bruzus who sources a wide range of varieties from small vineyards in Arroyo Seco, Carneros, Paso Robles, Clements Hills, and Santa Clara Valley. “When our club members come to pick up their wine shipments on a quarterly basis, the wine list is almost completely different from the last time they visited.”
The winery makes 8,000 cases of wine a year and sells only from the website and tasting room which is housed in a historic cave and masonry barn nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz.