April at Clos des Amis: Leaf Pulling and Happy International #SauvBlanc Day

Just a quick post about what’s happening in the vineyard — with lots of photos! — and to wish you an early happy Sauvignon Blanc Day (which is Friday May 3) with a comparison of the 2017 and the 2018 vintages from Clos des Amis!

While winter is all about pruning before the buds break, once those buds get going, next you have to control where and how they do their thing! As explained in the video below, it is necessary to pull leaves and suckers to allow the breeze to blow to reduce the threat of powdery mildew and to control how much fruit is produced.


Contrary to what you might think, MORE wine grapes is not necessarily better! Instead, you want to limit the grapes produced so that they are more powerful and concentrated.

Pictured below are the sprawling Sauvignon Blanc vines that we pruned in January and February. I was amazed at how much they had grown! You can see the tiny blooms forming, and from each tiny bloom comes a grape!

Last week, we focused on leaf pulling on the South Mountain vineyard’s Grenache which we completed! Up next is the Pinot Noir. And on and on until they are all done!  At the same time, we are looking for, picking off, and stomping any snails we find! It is a lot of labor to do it all by hand which is what it takes in such a small winery as Clos des Amis.

A few days later, we bottled the 2018 vintage and compared it with the 2017 over lunch; we also opened a Grenache and a few others to celebrate as well as sharing the sparkling Chambang — from the first commercial bottling that we did last week! Lots going on!

While these two wines came from the same vineyard and were made by the same winemaker using all stainless steel, they couldn’t be more different yet they are bonded by a certain, subtle sense of place, of minerality, striking acidity, and herbal notes.

2017 – Clos des Amis – South Mountain Vineyard – Sauvignon Blanc – Ventura County California – 13% alcohol  SRP $18
Sample for my review 

Color: Pale straw

Nose: Takes a while for the nose to open up and develop, starts with more mineral grassy note, moving into saffron, spicy qualities white pepper also clove, fennel pollen,

Palate: Lemony, crisp, bright, acidic, with a very acidic finish, at first you can almost be overwhelmed by the acidity that it takes a bit to get used to it. This is very much like a French Sauv Blanc as opposed to a California Sauv Blanc.

Pairing: Great oyster Sauv Blanc! We tried it with a bit of Morbier Goat cheese; we also had a drunken goat on hand to try out with the wine and it went great as well. Loved it with the scallops as well as the raviolis with pesto.

2018 – Clos des Amis – 2018 – South Mountain Vineyard – Sauvignon Blanc – Ventura County California – 13% alcohol –
Not released yet.
Sample for my review consideration.

Color: Pale straw, more cloudy than the 2017, tartaric crystals are at the bottom of the bottle.

Nose: Delicate florals plus lemon curd with grassy, fennel notes underlying.

Palate: The delicate florals come across on the palate, nicely round, there is still plenty of acidity but it is much more gentle than the 2017.

Pairing: Great with  goat cheese, Morbier, Cheviere, Drunken Goat, the creamy cheese evens everything out. There is a nice interaction between the acidity in the wine and the creamy cheese. Paired well with the scallops and pesto ravioli but also really nice with the ahi. This would be a wonderful wine with a seared ahi salad.

Bruce says that sauvignon blanc goes through an awkward period after bottling. That shock can last a brief time — or a long time. So he likes to bottle it before he’s sold out of the previous vintage to give it a chance to settle down. He’ll taste it over the next few months, and when it’s ready, he’ll release it.

Because it is SO INTERESTING to compare the two vintages, I’m going to get myself 2017 to save for that future tasting! I’m really curious how they will compare down the road. Will the 2018 continue to have such a beautiful floral expression? I know from talking with Erica Crawford that there is so much that can be done in the vineyard and in the winery to bring out these types of florals instead of the more typical intense gooseberry and grapefruit more common to many SB wines, especially those made int he typical New Zealand style.

There are so many wonderful Sauvignon blancs out there! Which one will you chose to enjoy on Friday, May 3 the official International Sauvignon Blanc Day? One from New Zealand? California? France?

Cheers to #SauvBlanc and #SauvBlanc Day!

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