Each year, Fritz Underground Winery winemaker Brad Longton sets aside a few barrels of Sauvignon Blanc to be fermented with native yeast. In a typical vintage, this wine is blended into our Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc to increase complexity. Off the heels of an exceptional 2016 vintage, it was clear these barrels could be stand-alone wines. Using a combination of different winemaking techniques applied to the same grape, we were able to produce three unique Sauvignon Blancs for the first time.
The Perfect Vintage
After a challenging, drought-stricken 2015, winemakers across the country were thrilled with the 2016 growing season. A rainy winter followed by a wet spring helped put Sonoma County back on track. While bud-break came early in 2016, a cooler August allowed ripening to take place slowly and predictably for a gradual development of flavors— without rapidly climbing sugar levels. With these early indications of quality, we knew there was an opportunity for a unique take on Sauvignon Blanc.
Why Native Yeast?
In every vineyard, there are always native, or wild, yeasts present. However, the majority of wines are made with commercial yeasts, cultivated to provide predictable fermentations, aromas, and flavors. That’s why using native yeast is a bit of a gamble — but one that can pay off in greater complexity, texture, and a richer mouthfeel in the wines. Native yeast fermentations typically last several days longer than commercial yeast fermentations, allowing the wines to develop nuanced flavors.
This process paid off particularly well for us, resulting in these first-time limited production bottlings.
And the Perfect Wines
Bright and expressive, this Sauvignon Blanc was 50% tank fermented and 50% barrel fermented in 45% neutral oak and 5% new French oak. All the juice in the barrel was fermented using native yeast. Our Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc displays notes of jasmine, peach, and wet stone, creating a lush mid-palate balanced by lively acidity and a hint of vanilla on the finish.
Cases produced: 600
100% barrel fermented in 20% new oak and the remainder in neutral barrels, this Sauvignon Blanc was fermented with 100% native yeast. On the palate, this wine erupts with notes of Meyer lemon, tart green apple, and candied apricot. Barrel fermentation has created a fruit-forward wine with a rich mouthfeel and satisfying weight. It finishes with toasted almond and varietally expressive grassy undertones.
Cases produced: 100
This wine was barrel fermented with native yeast in 35% new oak and the rest in one-year-old barrels. After a slow fermentation process lasting 25 days, this white wine then spent 4 months in barrel, giving it a level of depth and complexity that few Sauvignon Blancs have achieved. Easily the richest and most decadent of the three bottlings, the Native Yeast Sauvignon Blanc is lush and textured, showcasing notes of lemon curd, grapefruit pith, and toasty oak.
Cases produced: Only 45
Wine Club Exclusive!
Ready to taste?
Now that your taste buds are tingling, you’re ready to taste through these three unique white wines. Visit Fritz Underground Winery for a one-of-a kind experience—not only will you enjoy our breathtaking views of Sonoma County, you will have the opportunity to taste our Dry Creek and Estate Sauvignon Blanc offerings. While these two limited production wines can also be found on our website, we invite you to join our wine club for a chance to experience the Native Yeast Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy, and don’t forget to let us know your favorite!