We were pleased that by harvest time our 2016 Sauvignon Blanc crop looked picture-perfect. When walking the vineyard a few days before harvest we discovered some clusters affected with SAD, which describes both the grapes and the vintner's response. Sugar Accumulation Disorder occurs after veraison and causes low sugar accumulation; it was once named "sour shrivel", which accurately describes the taste and appearance of SAD-affected berries. The causes are not fully understood and no methods for control have been developed. Not all vines were affected, on affected vines not all clusters were affected and in affected clusters not all berries were affected. Our solution was to have the vineyard crew go through the field, vine by vine, look at and feel every cluster, then remove any flaccid cluster that had shriveled or was about to shrivel. It took us two days to locate and discard SAD affected fruit. We harvested the field over the next two nights, with a separate crew preceding the pickers, feeling and discarding any cluster that had turned SAD in the last 24 hours. From our many field samples, we had estimated the sugars and acids of unaffected clusters and were delighted when the harvested juice met our finicky expectations; a happy ending to a SAD story.
Removing Sauvignon Blanc leaves prior to harvest. At the 2017 Mendocino Crab and Wine Festival, the professional judges rated Navarro Savvy as the best Mendocino wine to complement crab
Navarro's bottling line. The bottles in the foreground were first filled with an inert gas and are now being filled with Sauvignon Blanc. The round machine in the background cleans the bottles prior to being filled.
Half the juice was cool fermented and aged in oak ovals and the other half fermented in stainless steel with a portion aged in seasoned 130 gallon French oak puncheons. There are no heavy oak flavors to muddle Sauvignon's herbal-tropical flavors and the lively acidity is the perfect match with seafood. Silver Medal winner.
Sauvignon Blanc clusters on the ground. These clusters were affected with SAD and were discarded during thinning. To determine the extent of clusters stricken, we first removed the fruit from 10 vines; five with clusters affected by SAD and five vines with all healthy fruit. We then measured the sugar content in unaffected clusters and berries to estimate the sugar level that we could expect if we harvested the Sauvignon Blanc grapes free of SAD.