2022 Freemark Abbey, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley.
The Freemark Abbey, Napa’s first winery to be woman owned, is a great way to celebrate Women’s History Month, especially with their tasty Sauvignon Blanc which comes from three separate vineyards, including the Freemark Abbey Wilson Ranch, Oakville Vineyard and Yount Mill Vineyard, that adds to the complexity, varietal character and range of bright citrusy and aromatic flavors. The vintage, while being hot at times and the wine being ripe, there’s a lovely refreshing balance, making for an expressive Sauvignon Blanc with zesty lemon/lime, passion fruit, honeydew melon and vibrant gooseberry fruits along with snappy herbs, loam, kiwi, leafy notes and a touch of a mineral stony essences. The texture is subtlety rounded, comforting and medium bodied, but still crisp in detail and lively enough to be a nice Summer sipper, while still providing substance to go with an array of cuisine options. Freemark Abbey’s winemaker Kristy Melton crafted this wine from 97% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Sémillon that was gently pressed and cool fermented to preserve heightened aromas, and after fermentation the wine was blended from separate pick dates and aged in mainly used French oak barrels for close to 4 months on the fine lees. Melton, as the winery notes is the eighth winemaker in Freemark Abbey’s more than 130-year history and its second female winemaker since Josephine Tychson in 1886, is already credited with raising the game here throughout the range of Freemark Abbey’s collection and I cannot wait to try more of her wines.

The historic Freemark Abbey winery, in St. Helena, which was first founded in 1886, as noted by the winery, by Josephine Tychson, a Victorian widow, built and operated the original redwood cellar on our estate, cultivated the land, and became the first female winemaker on record in Napa Valley. This was short lived, as in 1898, Antonio Forni, a good friend of Josephine’s, purchased the winery and renamed it as Lombarda Cellars, after his birthplace in Italy, he also build the winery structure which still survives today. Just before the US entered WWII, in 1939 three southern California businessmen purchased Lombarda Cellars, combining their names, Charles Freeman, Marquand Foster and Albert “Abbey” Ahern into the name, we know today, Freemark Abbey. Interestingly, Freemark Abbey was one of the first wineries in Napa to open a tasting room and visitors center back in 1949, and in 1967 a new partnership took over and into the 1970s they focused almost exclusively on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a few Bordeaux blends, including their Bosché Vineyard Cabernet, their signature wine, and one of the first single vineyard labeled bottlings in California. Freemark Abbey, one of the original twelve wineries to be included in the Judgement of Paris tastings, along with the likes of Chateau Montelena, Ridge Vineyards and others. I most recently reviewed Freemark Abbey’s 1972 Petite Sirah, a wine that was still was absolutely perfect and drinking exceptionally well at 50 years old, and I have enjoyed the signature Bosché Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon over the decades I’ve been a wine professional and even before as an enthusiast and look forward to doing so in the future.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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