A Super Splurge on Sauvignon Blanc

Perspective is everything, so when you ponder a $200+ bottle price of a 2016 Sauterne Château d’Yquem, a sauvignon blanc and semillon blend often interpreted as French “nectar” of the Gods, a $90 bottle of sauvignon blanc seems like a sweet deal.

I didn’t taste a Château d’Yquem, but I did taste a glass of Larkmead 2016 Lillie Sauvignon Blanc and it proved to be well-balanced and complex, imparting a silky finish. The bottle price for this Napa Valley, California stunner is $90 — higher than most Napa Valley sauvignon blancs, but a slam-dunk savings when you think about that bottle of Château d’Yquem.

Larkmead’s website refers to this high-priced white wine as “a sauvignon blanc that acts as a chardonnay.” Only 265 cases of this 2016 Lillie were produced at its estate in Calistoga, so it’s offered only in allocation.

Aside from the soil profile: Pleasanton Loam (clay), the big difference in the making of this wine is in the barrel aging. Lillie is special enough to have spent 10 months in a French barrel from La Charité-sur-Loire, France, and then a few months of downtime in a stainless steel tank before bottling. That explains why Lillie presents more like a chardonnay.

But it’s not.

Lillie is a sauvignon blanc without the Sauterne blend of semillon. And it’s pear season in Napa Valley, which may be why I conjured up pear notes at the top; perhaps it was more a sort of stone fruit or stone minerality. But then there’s a slight garden vegetable note at the bottom nose.

It’s all good.

The creamy mouthfeel and elegance of this summer white will set you craving a pineapple upside down cake.

Set this bottle down for 5 years and you’ll most likely get a creamier version with more complexity – similar to a Sauterne.

But it’s not. However, it will make an impression if you bring a bottle to your bestie’s barbeque this summer.

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