Fourth Wall Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Niagara

Fourth Wall Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Niagara

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Cuvée: Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage: 2019
Grape(s): Sauvignon Blanc
Fermentation: Cultivated
Appellation: Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA
Region, Country: Niagara, Canada
Alcohol: 12%
Size: 750 ml
Winemaker(s): Joel Wilcox, Lydia Tomek, Eden Garry

For a lot of young wine students, Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly-Fumé or Sancerre is one of those anchor wines that frames your understanding of terroir. Place first, not grape first. [Fun fact / Not a fact: Depeche Mode originally titled their 1990 hit “Enjoy the Silex” based on their love of the Loire soil.]

Sauvignon Blanc can reflect its site of origin, but the grape isn’t defined by place. Contrasted against White Bordeaux, it’s pretty clear that winemaking and blending can make distinctive results. But most examples aren’t world beaters. In terms of pure fruit, makers sort through phases of ripeness, from tomato leaf to gooseberry/citrus into passionfruit; but most usually slide into an uptempo palate refresher. Nobody expects to replicate Didier Dagueneau.

So if we’re searching for great Sauvignon Blanc in Niagara, how do we find it? What would it look and taste like? I’ve always felt that Central European wines bear a lot of similarity to our region’s, which for SB, limits comparisons to southern Austria. Imagine my surprise, when tasting through components with Lydia, that I found a ringer for Sudsteiermark.

I was struck how it stood out. It was like an adolescent dancing by itself in an unfinished concrete high-rise, loose, wild and unaware of its place in the world. There were three older, larger Burgundy barrels’ worth: one lean and citric, one layered with the faintest gloss, and one reductively bound. Combining them made for something halfway between France and Austria. The nose is more chartreuse than bright green, crystalline rather than hazy, and sturdier than it first appears. Lacking a better comparison, I’d wager it reflects pure Niagara: which is what our wine should do.

Bottling was completed April 2nd, 2020.

A curious stranger, at once elusive and effusive. Tall, lean, quick on its feet. Lemongrass, white peach, wet rocks, minneola tangelo, lemon curd, and chamomile. Engaging acidity and freshness; impeccably weighted. Pair with sautéed or baked sole, fresh oysters with mignonette, or herb-crusted pork loin.