Wine Tasting Notes, 2013: St. Supery, Napa

stsuperymoscatoThe first bottle of Napa wine that I ever purchased was St. Supery’s Estate Moscato. Of course, that was quite a long time ago. Life was simple then, and my tastes were simple, too. To paraphrase Dr. Steve Brule, the St. Supery Moscato tasted like fruit (perfectly-ripened apricots, as I recall) and that was enough for me. Although my horizons have broadened over the years, I still return to the St. Supery Moscato because it offers surprising versality. In a formal setting, this wine can be paired alongside aged cheeses (my favorite pairings include San Joaquin Gold, any Dry Jack, and cave-aged Gruyere), or it can pair alongside any salad that features stone fruit. On the casual side, St. Supery Moscato is also an ideal wine for picnics and barbecues: It’s low in alcohol, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s refreshing when served at ice-cold temperatures. If you end up drinking this wine out of a red plastic cup, it won’t be the end of the world.

During my last visit to St. Supery, I tasted several of their wines, and I was once again impressed with the overall quality of the white wine program. The St. Supery Estate Moscato is a nostalgic pick, but Sauvignon Blanc is the winery’s strongest effort overall. I took a few notes during the tasting, though mainly just some details that I found interesting. I’m not big on telling people what flavors they “should” taste in a wine — I think there’s already enough of  that out there already. I also think it would be silly for me to “score” wine. Ultimately, wine is a binary decision: Do you buy the bottle, or not? My approach is to judge a wine against its price, and then just shoot from the hip. If you need clarifications, or if you have another opinion, just leave me a comment.

2011 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Saunvignon Blanc, $35 • This wine is a classic Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, with just a touch of oak (20%, to be exact). The Dollarhide Vineyard is located in Pope Valley, and the pricier wines tend to originate from this vineyard, but to be honest, I tend to prefer St. Supery’s Rutherford wines. The Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc is fine, but there is tremendous value in the St. Supery Estate Sauvignon Blanc, which is only $20.

2011 Napa Valley Estate Virtú, $30 • The Napa Valley has become so homogenized with Cabernet and Chardonnay that I tend to applaud anything different. St. Supery’s homage to white Bordeaux is 60% Semillon (aged in oak) and 40% Sauvignon Blanc (aged in stainless). It was crisp, and I was into it.

2012 Dollarhide Ranch Chardonnay, $35 • I’m a California Chardonnay drinker, but not a California Chardonnay buyer, if that makes any sense. I appreciate Chardonnay but I don’t go out of my way to fill my cellar with it. The Dollarhide Chardonnay was good (I think the price-point is right on), definitely medium in body, and not overly malolactic in character.

2009 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Malbec, $50 • I like seeing Malbec in the Napa Valley, and this is a very likable red wine. I’d be a bit more enthusiastic if this bottle was $40 — $50 is my upper limit for not-Cabernet. St. Supery also offers a Petit Verdot at the $50 level, though I didn’t taste it.

2010 Napa Valley Estate Élu, $65 • As the red counterpart to the Estate Virtú, the Estate Élu is a Bordeaux blend comprised mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon (historically, this wine is usually about two-thirds Cabernet, but the 2010 vintage checks in at 76%). It’s solid, and at $65, it’s probably the winery’s best Cabernet value.

2009 Rutherford Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, $85 • Rutherford Cabs are among my favorites, though for $85, I’d like to have more of that dusty character. I’m not sure if that’s a fair criticism, since my penchant for “Rutherford dust” is just personal taste. It’s kind of how I felt, though. I just wanted a little more cow bell.

2012 St. Supery Estate Moscato, $25 • Is it over the top to call this wine a Napa Valley classic? Can a classic be $25? I will say, however, that I prefer the old label design.

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