Before the grapes appeared on the property, the Gibbs family farm in St. Helena was dedicated to nut and fruit orchards as well as a personal garden. In the 1970s, Dr. Lewis Gibbs Carpenter Jr., a psychologist by trade with a deep-seated passion for agriculture, replanted his land to Bordeaux varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot (which were beginning to gain international attention following the Judgment of Paris in 1976). In 2000, Craig and Susan Handly, Lewis’ son-in-law and daughter took a stab at making wines from the family property. Former label designers, the couple fell in love with winemaking and over the next decade, Craig honed his craft by producing private label wines from Lewis’ Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. Sadly, Lewis passed away in 2013, yet his work lives on with the label ‘Gibbs Napa Valley’ which Craig and Susan launched that same year. Still sourcing fruit from the vineyard Lewis planted over forty years ago, they craft Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, while they also source fruit from Carneros and Sonoma for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With the help of their son, Spencer who joined the family business in 2014, the Handly’s offer small-production wines that are balanced, expressive and affordable (especially by Napa Valley standards!).
This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is extremely small-production (only 242 cases produced!), hence we feel very lucky to have scored some to feature in our white wine club. Fermented and aged in exclusively stainless steel, there is no oak to cloak the exotic notes of lychee, guava and honeydew melon which enthusiastically greet you on the nose. The palate is fairly full-bodied for a Sauvignon Blanc, yet the flavors remain crisp and focused in the vein of Granny Smith apple, Meyer lemon and grapefruit. A zesty acidity accentuates the bright quality of the wine and makes us yearn for fresh, lightly prepared seafood such as freshly shucked oysters or scallops with tarragon butter sauce.