The Event
St. Supéry Wines
© by Sheral Schowe
When friends ask about interesting wineries to visit while traveling through Napa Valley, I always suggest St. Supéry, among many others, for a particularly educational tour. St. Supéry's winery is a reflection of tradition and history as well as high tech.

The tradition aspect is found at the Atkinson house, which is a Victorian, historical landmark that serves as a living museum of Napa Valley history, over a century ago. In fact, a French winemaker by the name of Edward St. Supéry lived there in the 1800's, leaving the legacy of his name for the winery. Tradition and history stops and high tech begin as you walk in to the winery, gift store, and the Discovery Center. You can learn so much about the winemaking process and its history, as well as the viticultural differences between the varietals grown on their three properties. Outside, an educational display vineyard demonstrates trellising systems and wine varieties.

St. Supéry's wines are available in abundance in this state, with six selections from which to choose. The most popular and well known of them all is their Sauvignon Blanc 1999 ($13.95.) The flavors are full and vibrant, with aromas and flavors of grapefruit, lime, and melon. It is more citrus-like than grassy and herbaceous, which is a change from about four years ago, when they changed their winemaker and style. The grapes were harvested mostly at night to maintain the delicate fruit flavors then racked into tanks for a long, cool, fermentation process, which leaves a clean, crisp flavor with a lingering finish.

The 1998 Chardonnay ($14.95) is fermented in both French and American oak. It has some tropical aromas along with a little vanilla and toasted oak. The palate is full and rich up front with melon and golden delicious apple flavors with some orange citrus tones on the finish. The 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95) has a slight touch of Cabernet Franc in the blend. It is complex and balanced, with delicious cassis and blackberry flavors, rounded out with vanilla from the barrel aging.

St. Supéry's Merlot 1997 ($17.95) is actually 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. The aromas and flavors are full, round, and rich with ripe berries with some toast and vanillin. The finish is a little spicy with anise.

If you are looking for a keeper for your cellar as well as a wine to enjoy now, the Meritage 1996 ($38.75) is an excellent choice. It is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Merlot, just enough of a Bordeaux-style blend to call itself a "meritage." The nose is a delightful combination of ripe berry, toasted oak, chocolate, tobacco, and a slight hint of vanilla. The winemaker suggests a licorice finish.

Dessert wines definitely have their place on my table, and St. Supéry's Moscato is one that has seen it's way to several of my wine tasting dinners. The 1999 Moscato ($11.75) is a reasonably priced Muscat Canelli that is refreshing and interesting. The aroma is ripe peaches, apricots, and melon. The flavors are the same, with a nice vibrant finish.

May 23, 2000

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