Women Winemakers: Danielle Cyrot
I'm so excited to introduce you to Danielle Cyrot because she is the winemaker of Cade Winery and she makes the best Sauvignon Blanc I've had; and I don't throw that term around lightly. It is the bar by which I judge all other Sauvignon Blanc, so get ready! You may remember Cade from my visit to Napa in April (you can read about my trip here) and now I'm going to dive a little deeper and share Danielle's story with you.
I had the pleasure of seeing Danielle speak about her role and the wines that she makes at Cade during a "work-perk" party a few years ago. I could seriously listen to her talk about wine all day long. She geeked out, I geeked out over her geeking out, and I fell in love with her wines.
Danielle grew up in California and comes from a family that has a history of making wine in Côte de Beaune, one of the most prestigious regions of Burgundy. However, she didn't have plans to carry on that legacy and she attended UC Davis with the intention of studying physical therapy. Out of curiosity, she took an introductory wine course and she quickly changed her major and graduated with a degree in Viticulture and Enology. While studying at UC Davis, she worked harvests at two wineries in Napa and once she graduated she worked at wineries in Alsace and Australia to experience how other parts of the world make wine. She returned to California with these skills, landed a job at Stags' Leap winery as an enologist, and was quickly promoted to assistant winemaker once her talent was recognized. She spent six years there, honing her skills of making elegant, world-class wines and accepted a position as winemaker at St. Clement, where she spent another 7 years before joining Cade in 2012.
At Cade, Danielle crafts 5 wines: three Cabernet Sauvignon (Cade Cabernet Sauvignon, Cade Estate Howell Mountain, and Howell Mountain Reserve) and two Sauvignon Blanc (Cade Sauvignon Blanc and Cade Estate Sauvignon Blanc). I was able to taste all of them again during my visit in April and they were just as lovely as I remembered.
Howell Mountain in an AVA within Napa and Cabernet that is grown there is fruit driven with notes of berries like cherry, strawberry, and raspberry. The wines have a great body and texture and age really nicely. The bottle in this photograph is almost precious to me and, full disclosure, I did not open it for this post because I want to age this baby! But after sipping it on a few occasions, I can vouch for its balance of flavors and textural elegance. In other words: it's freaking awesome. Danielle has an interesting, and obviously successful, approach to fermenting the Cabernet: she and her team press the wine when it still has some sweetness, knowing that it will become more bold as it matures. This makes her red wines very approachable and easy to drink because they're not overly tannic.
The Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc Musqué clone, Sauvignon Blanc, and a small amount of Viognier and Semillon, as well as a blend of different fermentation techniques: a portion is fermented in oak barrels and the rest in concrete eggs and stainless steel tanks, which highlights the fresh fruity characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc and the oak adds a deep complexity to the wines. I'm saving my Cab, but I will open the Sauvy for this post! It shows really lovely notes of passion fruit, elderflower, grapefruit, peach, and lime balanced with a soft, creamy texture, medium body, and a snappy acidity. It's a gorgeous wine and I'm instantly transformed into a real-life heart eyes emoji when I drink it.
I can't say enough good things about Cade wines and Danielle's talents. I feel like such a fangirl saying this, but her career is one that I'll follow closely! #nerdalert. If you see any Cade wines in a retail store or on a restaurant wine list, get it and watch yourself transform into your own favorite love emoji.
Wines pictured in this post:
Cade Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015: $52
Cade Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: $80