“A fine wine pervades your soul – when it’s exceptional and memorable it serves as an extraordinary experience brightening your life to everything.”
We hope this finds you well and that 2020 is off to a great start. This is a friendly reminder that our spring allocation period will be ending on Wednesday, March 25th. We are grateful for the tremendous response to our 2017 vintage, and first ever release of our trés Merlot offering. We do not have enough wine to keep available beyond the end of the release period so to ensure you don’t miss out, please do order your wines soon via online or call me directly as soon as possible. Our trés Rosé de Chardonnay sell outs quickly.
RESVERATROL: PURSUING NATURAL, NO ADDED SULFITES
We’re off to another busy year with the early Spring warmth showering us at Sill Family Vineyards. There’s a glorious yellow blanket of mustard along our Silverado Trail, bringing Napa to another season of vineyard’s leap to life. As we await full bud break on our vines, we are anticipating a fantastic growing season and wish to share some important news with you. This winter’s slow season has allowed me to spend some time examining traditional winemaking techniques, always with an eye to advancing and improving our purist methods, ideally where we can continue to utilize natural elements over synthetic ones.
There’s a myth that it is impossible to produce good, long lasting wines without the use of sulfur dioxide (SO2) as a preservative. Turns out that this is simply not true. Wine already comes with a few natural preservatives, including alcohol, acidity, tannins, and naturally created sulfites. These elements provide wine with a long life especially when the bottle is properly sealed and protected from oxygen entry. So, when producing thousands of gallons of wines adding commercial SO2 is a convenient and cost-effective way to preserve wines. Personally, I have elected not to use SO2 during the fermentation process, much as I’ve eliminated MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) from my foods. I believe there’s a very similar effect when adding commercial SO2 in the production of wine.
Journal of Life Sciences publication1 cites resveratrol as an alternative to sulfites (SO2) in the fermentation and cellaring of wine, instead advocating the substitution/elimination of added SO2 with resveratrol as more effective preservative, and without the side effects.
Basically, the vines synthesize the antioxidant resveratrol as a response to natural UV sunlight. Resveratrol is a naturally occurring polyphenol antioxidant that is found in some plants, like grape vines. These phenolic acids provide some of the most important elements in assessing a wine’s quality and are, very possibly, responsible for the beneficial health properties of red wines. It’s something that should please the health conscious. There’s also an abundance of evidence that red wines grown at higher elevations possess greater levels of resveratrol, yielding health benefits. Natural purity is our constant goal. There’s little doubt that crafting wine without adding sulfites is a small production only capability, which we relish.
With our 2019 vintage wines, we’ve closely monitored malolactic fermentation (MLF) and found that given the small quantity of wines that we craft, we haven’t found the need to add any following fermentation. Once MLF is completed, we keep our wines bunged up and securely topped avoiding oxidization and bacteria entry. We also stir the lees (bâtonnage) which helps keep natural SO2 down. We closely monitor and test, and may add a miniscule amount of SO2 just before bottling, but only if needed. Despite our practice, our labels are legally required to carry the ‘contains sulfites’, that have graced our bottles sold in the US since 1988, and within the EU since 2005. Only those with less than 10 parts per million (PPM) are exempted, but the fermentation process can produce more than that naturally, without the addition of SO2. Even wines that have no added sulfites must legally display those words on the label.
By contrast, resveratrol has been cited as a factor in the so-called French Paradox – where a high-fat diet can be offset by moderate consumption of antioxidants contained in red wine and has been variously linked with claims that it can help in the fight against cancer, dementia and immune-deficiency illnesses.
“Red wine has been demonstrated to have a beneficial effect on preventing heart disease. The mechanism of this benefit isn’t known yet, but we have been drinking wine for many centuries and, in addition to the joy it provides, scientists are working with vintners to better understand its health effects,” said Dr. David Agus, professor of Medicine & Engineering, University of Southern California, and CEO of USC’s Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine.
1 Journal of Life Sciences, Enrichment of Resveratrol in Wine through a New Vinification Procedure, Raul Francisco Pastor, July 30, 2015
Ellison Institute draws collaborators from across conventional health and wellness fields, as well as from a broad range of other disciplines such as physics, biology, math and engineering to study cancer and potential ways to prevent, detect and treat the disease.
All our wines are now aging in fine tight-grained French Oak barrels. Our 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are absolute stunners. It’s well known that we age and hold our wines a bit longer than most. Two and a half years élevage, a portion in new French oak (typically Taransaud barrels toasted Medium+), followed by six months in neutral French barrels, and finally six months aged in the bottle. A lot of patience and care are infused in these unforgettable wines. It’s no wonder that Robert Parker extended a 97 point rating to our Atlas Peak vineyard’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and Wine Spectator rated it 98 points. Our 2015 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon received the coveted CWSA 2018 Wine of the Year Award, as well as the Double Gold Medal and is now served at famed The French Laundry and other fine dining establishments. C’est magnifique!
THE FRENCH LAUNDRY ADDS SILL FAMILY VINEYARDS TO ITS AWARD WINNING WINE LIST
The French Laundry is an epic culinary experience to what Anthony Bourdain has called “the best restaurant in the world, period.”
For over 25 years Thomas Keller’s legendary Yountville destination has remained the pinnacle of fine California dining experience, topping every foodie’s bucket list. Chef Keller continues to pair impeccably classic French techniques with the freshest ingredients from his gardens and farms and finest of wines in a setting that is the paragon of restaurant greatness— a dining experience you reminisce for the rest of your life. We are honored that Sill Family Vineyard wines are now included on The French Laundry wine list – 2nd from the top.
From all of us, thank you & cheers!
Vintner & Winemaker