Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2018

Pale yellow color; honeydew melon, white flowers, citrus, lemongrass on the nose; grapefruit, white peach, guava, lime on the palate.

Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2018

Dry; bright acidity (3.21 pH) with flinty minerality. Rich and full in the mouth. Fermented in 77.9% stainless steel, 21.7% oak barrels, .4% concrete egg; aged five months in neutral French oak. Light and refreshing in the mouth with the pleasing fruit and tartness you expect from a quality sauv blanc—the name means “wild white” in French. At the same time, with this effort there is a pleasing smoothness and creaminess that plays well with the tartness, especially on the mid-palate and extended finish; 13.4% ABV

The 2018 season was special. Cakebread winemaker Stephanie Jacobs notes: “The 2018 growing season was a dream come true. Early spring rains replenished the soils, clusters ripened evenly over a long, slow summer with no heat spikes, and grapes reached full maturity right on time. Yields at harvest were abundant and of very high quality.”

Jack and Dolores Cakebread founded the winery in 1973 with a commitment to “warm, gracious hospitality and unmatched wines.” Today, the second generation—Dennis and Bruce—has the reins. Mike Jaeger—a storied wine brand manager (he was chairman of the board at Clos du Val before joining Cakebread)—is the president and CEO. Stephanie Jacobs is the winemaker.

Jack Cakebread

Jack first encountered Napa and the wine scene as a photographer. He studied with Ansel Adams from 1957 to 1966. He came to Napa in 1973 to photograph for what became a classic coffee-table book, The Treasury of American Wines. He mentioned to a friend that if some Napa land became available, please give him a call. Land became available, and Jack and Dolores used the advance they received from the wine book to buy their first piece of Napa land.

Jack’s father was in the car repair business—Cakebread’s Garage—and, by 1973, Jack was president of the company and working full time in addition to his photography. Didn’t matter, Jack and Dolores began developing their property, planting grapes and a garden that still produces food for the Cakebread culinary program and welcomes visitors. In the 46 years since that atypical beginning, Cakebread has become an iconic Napa fixture.

Dolores Cakebread

The Cakebread website goes into interesting details, along with videos and vintage photographs, and is well worth a visit if you want an entertaining sojourn. Quality and innovation are important at Cakebread. They initiated night harvesting to improve grape quality, whole-cluster pressing of white grapes for freshness and varietal intensity, sur lie aging of chardonnay for richness and creaminess. Cakebread Cellars is a green-certified winery (since 2008). Its vineyards are green-certified and either farmed organically or sustainably. The website has nice videos about Cakebread’s vineyard, winemaking processes, and environmental initiatives.

Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2018 is a delicious and intriguing expression of rich, Napa Valley sauvignon blanc fruit. There is a pleasing juxtaposition of tartness and acidity with smoothness and creaminess, especially after some time in the glass/air. It gets better glass after glass. Sauvignon blanc is famously food friendly. This can work solo, as an aperitif, or with a cheese plate (especially goat cheeses). Also will pair with shrimp, crab, oysters, seafood in general; with grilled vegetables and most green herbs, thanks to sauv blanc’s herbaceous notes. Also, depending on sauces or cooking method, chicken, turkey, pork chops. Red meat pairings, not so much. $31-36

Cakebread Cellars website

Dennis Cakebread
Bruce Cakebread
Mike Jaeger-Cakebread
Stephanie Jacobs-Cakebread