Exploring Rare Wines: Sylvaner’s Californian Expression

In this captivating article, we’ll be exploring the rare and incredible grape known as Sylvaner, specifically its Californian expression. The video, titled “Learn by Tasting (ep. 38) Wine Folly” and created by Wine Folly, takes us on a blind tasting journey to discover the surprising presence of Sylvaner in Santa Maria, CA. Union Sacré, an unexpected winery in Paso Robles, focuses on white winemaking in an Alsatian style, and their 2022 Union Sacré Sylvaner showcases the unique Californian expression of this lesser-known grape. With its exuberant aromas, spritely palate, and crispy acidity, this wine is sure to delight your taste buds. With over a thousand wine varieties out there, it’s always exciting to come across something new and discover that you simply can’t live without it. Talk about love at first sip! Throughout the blind tasting, the article takes you on an observation-driven journey to identify the wine in the glass, focusing on its color, aroma, palate, and characteristics. Ultimately, it is revealed to be the Union Sacré Sylvaner from the Santa Maria Valley in California, showcasing the unique expression of Sylvaner in a cool climate region influenced by the Pacific Ocean. The article also introduces Xavier, the winemaker behind this extraordinary wine, who shares his traditional winemaking process and recommends pairing it with dishes like oysters or sashimi. So, get ready to deepen your understanding and appreciation of wine as you explore the fascinating world of Sylvaner’s Californian expression. Join the Wine F Club, taste along, and subscribe to Wine Folly for more exciting videos and insights into the world of wine. Cheers!

Exploring Rare Wines: Sylvaner’s Californian Expression

Introduction to Sylvaner

Sylvaner is a grape varietal that is often overlooked and rare outside of its traditional regions of Alsace and Germany. This lesser-known grape offers a unique flavor profile and characteristics that make it worth exploring. In this article, we will delve into the background of Sylvaner and its association with Alsace and Germany, as well as its surprising discovery in Santa Maria, California. We will also explore the influence of climate and soil on Sylvaner’s expression in California and provide tasting notes of the 2022 Union Sacré Sylvaner. Additionally, we will introduce you to Xavier, the winemaker behind this remarkable wine, and discuss perfect food pairings with Sylvaner. Get ready to discover the rare and captivating world of Sylvaner wine!

Background on Union Sacré winery

Union Sacré winery, located in Paso Robles, California, is an unexpected gem that focuses on white winemaking in an Alsatian style. The winery, founded by Xavier, the passionate winemaker, is dedicated to bringing the traditions and techniques of Alsatian winemaking to the Central Coast of California. This unique approach sets Union Sacré apart and allows them to create exceptional wines that showcase the true potential of Sylvaner and other white grape varieties. By exploring Sylvaner from Union Sacré, we can truly delve into the Californian expression of this rare wine.

Exploring Rare Wines: Sylvaners Californian Expression

Characteristics of Sylvaner wine

Sylvaner wine exhibits a distinct flavor profile and characteristics that make it stand out among other white wine varieties. Aromas commonly found in Sylvaner wines include lemongrass, white peach, lemon zest, basil, and honeydew melon. These aromatic notes give Sylvaner a refreshing and aromatic quality. In terms of taste, Sylvaner often has a fresh palette with subtle minerality and a vibrant, acidic finish. The moderate alcohol levels and lighter body of Sylvaner wines offer a crisp and balanced experience. Compared to other white wine varieties, Sylvaner is known for its unique expression and ability to showcase green fruit, floral notes, and a hint of spice.

Sylvaner’s association with Alsace and Germany

Historically, Sylvaner has been closely associated with Alsace in France and certain regions of Germany. In Alsace, the grape has been celebrated for its subtle yet complex profile, often displaying green fruit flavors, floral notes, and a touch of spice. Germany also boasts a long-standing tradition of Sylvaner production, where it is known for its versatility and ability to reflect the characteristics of its terroir. While Sylvaner may not be as widely known as other grapes from these regions, its unique qualities have earned it a special place in the hearts of wine enthusiasts who appreciate its complexity and distinctive flavor profile.

Exploring Rare Wines: Sylvaners Californian Expression

Discovery of Sylvaner in Santa Maria, CA

One of the most surprising aspects of Sylvaner is its discovery in an unexpected place: Santa Maria, California. Santa Maria is nestled in the Santa Maria Valley, a region known for its cool climate and proximity to the Pacific Ocean. This combination of factors, including cold nights, chilly winds, and coastal fog, creates a microclimate that is conducive to growing Sylvaner grapes. The diverse soil types found in the region add further complexity to the expression of Sylvaner in California. The discovery of Sylvaner in Santa Maria showcases the region’s unique ability to produce wines with their own Californian expression, while still honoring the grape’s traditional roots.

Influence of climate and soil on Sylvaner in California

Santa Maria Valley’s climate and geological features play a significant role in shaping the expression of Sylvaner in California. The cool climate, influenced by the nearby ocean and constant exposure to fog, creates ideal conditions for growing Sylvaner grapes. These factors contribute to the development of vibrant acidity, crispness, and lower alcohol levels in Sylvaner wines from California. The diverse soil types found in the region, ranging from ancient marine sediments to volcanic ash, add further complexity and character to Sylvaner. Together, the climate and soil in Santa Maria Valley provide a unique terroir that allows Sylvaner to flourish and express itself in a way that differs from its traditional counterparts in Alsace and Germany.

Exploring Rare Wines: Sylvaners Californian Expression

Tasting Notes of 2022 Union Sacré Sylvaner

The 2022 Union Sacré Sylvaner from Santa Maria Valley showcases the unique characteristics and flavors of this rare grape. In terms of appearance, it displays a pale straw color, indicating careful winemaking and control over oxygen exposure. On the nose, expect to find an array of aromas such as lemongrass, white peach, lemon zest, basil, and honeydew melon. These aromatic notes create an enticing bouquet, combining freshness with herbal undertones. On the palate, the wine is fresh and vibrant, with subtle minerality and a refreshing acidity-driven finish. The lighter alcohol content and lean mid-palate contribute to a balanced and enjoyable drinking experience. The hints of honeydew melon and lemon zest in the tasting notes suggest the cooling influences of the Santa Maria Valley, resulting in a wine that is both unique and captivating.

Introduction to Xavier, the winemaker

Xavier, the owner and winemaker of Union Sacré winery, plays a pivotal role in crafting the exceptional Sylvaner from Santa Maria Valley. With a passion for winemaking and a dedication to the Alsatian style, Xavier brings a unique perspective to the California wine scene. His background and expertise in traditional winemaking techniques allow him to create wines that pay homage to the traditions of Alsace while incorporating the terroir of Santa Maria Valley. Xavier’s innovative approach and commitment to quality contribute to the development of Sylvaner that truly reflects the potential of this rare grape variety.

Traditional winemaking process for Sylvaner

The traditional winemaking process for Sylvaner at Union Sacré involves careful handling of the grapes and a focus on preserving the unique characteristics of the fruit. As soon as the grapes are harvested, they are gently pressed, ensuring minimal exposure to oxygen. Temperature control is maintained during fermentation, which typically lasts around 12 days. This controlled fermentation process allows the wine to develop its distinct flavors and aromas. After fermentation, the wine is separated from the lees, and it ages in tanks or barrels for approximately 8 months. This traditional approach emphasizes the importance of preserving the integrity of the Sylvaner grape and capturing its unique expression in every bottle.

Perfect food pairings with Sylvaner

The 2022 Union Sacré Sylvaner from Santa Maria Valley is a versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of dishes. Its exuberant aromas, spritely palate, and crispy acidity make it an excellent companion for seafood, particularly oysters and sashimi. The refreshing acidity of Sylvaner also balances well with dishes that incorporate a hint of cream, such as pasta with a light cream sauce or creamy cheeses. The subtle minerality and herbaceous notes in the wine complement fresh salads and light vegetarian dishes. Overall, Sylvaner’s acidity and complexity make it a perfect choice for a wide range of culinary delights.


In conclusion, exploring rare wines such as Sylvaner can be a fascinating and enriching journey for wine enthusiasts. Sylvaner’s California expression, as exemplified by the 2022 Union Sacré Sylvaner from Santa Maria Valley, showcases the unique characteristics and flavors of this underappreciated grape. The dedication of the winemaker, Xavier, to the Alsatian winemaking style brings out the best in Sylvaner, creating a wine that is aromatic, fresh, and well-balanced. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with food, Sylvaner offers a one-of-a-kind experience that is worth discovering. So, embrace the allure of rare wines and immerse yourself in the captivating world of Sylvaner. Cheers!