Vintners around the world invest in marketing mavens and trademark attorneys to come up with proprietary names for wines. Other than honoring the memories after his grandmother and great grandmother with his two most important red wines, Dennis Murphy doesn’t spend any bandwidth on names for his other wines.
That explains why his blend of Sauvignon Blanc (75%) and Sémillon from his Sanitella Vineyard is simply called Estate White Wine.
“It took a long court battle to use that on the label, but it’s fine now,” he jokes, adding, “The focus shouldn’t be about the vessel or the logo or the name. It’s about the wine.”
Sanitella is Murphy’s second planting in Oregon near Milton-Freewater and in the expansive 2,700-acre SeVein Vineyards project that Norm McKibben, Marty Clubb and the Figgins family brought to life. The vines fight their way through fractured basalt at 1,300 feet elevation, contiguous to his Octave Vineyard. Sanitella also shares a property line with the McQueen planting for Drew Bledsoe’s Doubleback as well as the western block of Willamette Valley Vineyards’s Pambrun sites.
Last fall, Murphy harvested his white Bordeaux varieties the first week of October. Bottling came Feb. 8 after three months in neutral French oak, and he made it available in time for the Walla Walla Valley’s Spring Release Weekend in early May.
The nose screams Sauvignon Blanc with its gooseberry and lime zest. On the palate, the involvement of Sémillon and its short time in barrel adds some structure and a lemony aspect, but neither gets in the way of the salinity and lip-smacking Rose’s Lime Juice in the finish. And it’s good that Murphy increased production 60% beyond his 2021 Estate White. Either that or he’ll need to invest in a peach orchard to meet demand for the Tomato Peach Gazpacho that often is featured at Caprio Cellars with his Estate White Wine.
His culinary team also pairs it with Cauliflower Bisque or Butternut Squash with Black Lentil Salad — and both recipes are on the Caprio Cellars website.
Rating: Best of class/double gold medal and 92 points from the 2023 Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.
Production: 400 cases