2012 Cabernet Sauvignon | 2013 Sauvignon Blanc
I received a small box containing two bottles of wine one day. I didn’t know who it was from, the winery didn’t seem familiar and I didn’t remember talking to anyone about these wines recently. I decided to give them a try, knowing nothing. I didn’t look up the wines website, just poured and decanted for 30 minutes at 68F, starting with the Cabernet. After tasting both wines, each over a 3 day period and with my tasting notes complete I ventured onto the Villa San-Juliette website.
I was very surprised to see a photo of Nigel Lythgoe laughing, holding a glass of wine, to say the least. Nigel Lythgoe is an international superstar. He developed and produced “Pop Idol” which was created by Simon Fuller. Pop idol became a global television show, and in 2002 Nigel moved to the U.S. to develop and produce “American Idol” and he became a producer and judge on “So You Think You Can Dance”.
40 years ago Nigel met Ken Warwick at school and they became friends. Both ended up in the entertainment industry as producers and both moved to the U.S. in 2002 to work on American Idol. Ken was a producer of the show from 2002-2013 and more recently he has been producing “America’s got talent”
So according to the info on the website, these two guys were having dinner in Vegas back in 2004 and they asked the sommelier to surprise them with a Cabernet. The Som brought out something that apparently caused them to purchase a 168 acre vineyard in Paso Robles! That’s probably not exactly how quickly it happened. In my mind’s eye I can see a hilarious scene where the two super stars and their British Accents sounding like judges on So You Think You Can Dance and getting really excited about the wine suddenly declare “We must buy Paso Robles at once!”
The pair bought the vineyard and immediately set about a major overhaul and renovation. The 168 acre property now has over 130 acres under vine with 11 varieties. The vineyard also received SIP certification in 2013. SIP is a very rigorous “Sustainability In Practice” certification and is much more holistic than simple “Green” or “Organic” certifications.
Also in 2013,Matt Ortman was hired as wine maker. Matt has a long background in wine that comes from his father, who was wine maker at Spring Mountain Vineyards, and a consultant at Cain, Far Niente and Shafer. Matt auditioned for the “role” of wine maker at Villa San Juliette. Nigel and Ken and a bunch of wine makers present their wines for a blind tasting and in a scene rather like one of their TV show’s they picked the top contestant! Matt’s wines took first and second place.
Villa San Juliette 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Paso Robles
Pale straw in color with lychee and a bit of honeysuckle and melon on the nose. The palate is dominated by citrus and searing acidity with notes of lemon grass. If you like your Sauvignon Blanc to have some kick to it, then this is the wine for you. The alcohol weighs in at 14.4% and although not over bearing there is a warm glow from the alcohol that manifested itself more on the 2nd and 3rd day of the bottle being open. Retail price is $14. A decent wine though not terribly complex, a basic summer wine. Weekly Wine Journal rating: 86 points.
Villa San Juliette 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles
Deep purple in color, with a nose of blackberry and rose petals. The palate is nice and smooth, rich with currant and black cherry. The alcohol comes in at 14.5%. This wine drank nicely all throughout the 3 day tasting period. The blend on this wine is quite interesting with 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Alicante Bouschete, 9% Syrah and 3% Cabernet Franc. There is a texture and mouthfeel to the wine vaguely familiar, a little like “Rutherford dust”. This fine dust like texture is nice, gives the weight a more weighty feel. This wine would pair equally well with steak as with a meaty tomato based pasta. The retail price is about $20 but if you can get the wine for $15 this would be an exceptional value. Weekly Wine Journal Rating: 88 points
*wines provided by the winery for review