sushi – it’s not just for Pinot anymore
Recently, I was invited for a media-lunch-tasting-type-thingy in Philly with the affably hippie-ish-appearing Greg Morthole, who has been making wines for the Davis Bynum label since 2010. Davis Bynum wa purchased by Rodney Strong in 2007, and before that was a bit of a Sonoma-area legend, based on its eponymous founder.
That Davis Bynum (who passed away in 2017) is literally the daddy of Russian River Valley single-vineyard Pinot Noir, having harvested the first ever such varietal wine in 1973. Bynum got his start as a home winemaker in the 1950s, went pro in the 1960s, and at times had vineyard land in Napa and handshake grape deals with the Rochioli clan. And those last two sentences are a gross oversimplification of why Bynum’s name is well-regarded in the vinous world; I mean, this is also the former San Francisco Chronicle reporter who famously bought a box of grapes from Robert Mondavi for less than $2, once employed the about-as-legendary winemaker Gary Farrell, and used to haul grapes to his Albany winery in a 1946 Studebaker flatbed.
Morthole speaks fondly of Bynum, and if he’s suffering from any pressure-related performance anxiety related to making wines under Bynum’s name, he doesn’t betray an iota of it in his laid-back, California dude demeanor. Here’s what we tasted together over bites of Zama Sushi in Philly (and, yeah, Pinot works with sushi, depending on how earthy a cut you order, and how reserved your application of wasabi is…)…
2017 Davis Bynum Virginia’s Block Jane’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley, $25)
“This is my favorite vintage [of the Sauvignon Blanc],” Morthole mentioned to me, “and I’m not just bullsh*tting you!” And there is definintely something special about this release, which hails from a mere five acres of sandy-clay loam soils, and sees twenty percent acacia and older oak barrel action. Sporting melon, lemongrass, spice, blossoms, and tropical fruit aromas/flavors, this holds its palate weight deftly; I mean, it’s curvy, but it’s also firm.
2015 Davis Bynum River West Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley, $25)
- 2015 Davis Bynum River West Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley, $25)
- 2014 Davis Bynum River West Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley, $25)