Swirl n' Spit
Tasting Room of the Week
By Heather Irwin
Lowdown: It's never a good sign when you get barked at as you enter a front door--by a person, not a dog. Granted, it was a busy Sunday and there was a large group of tourists hogging up the hallway in front of us, and barking out directions was someone's idea of organizing us. But being herded into an already overcrowded tasting room wasn't a good start for me. And things didn't get much better from there.
Now, let me say that I'd been looking forward to this visit for a while. I'd heard that St. Supéry was one of the more fun tasting experiences, with a wonderful gallery and outdoor picnic area. I can't tell you about the gallery or picnic site, because I spent 15 minutes standing at the bar waiting to get served. And when I was, it was by a staffer who obviously hadn't been briefed on the wines or his job and was on his very first day. Again, I'm willing to be patient, but the poor boy was completely frazzled. By the time we'd been served by three different people over the course of some 35 minutes, I was done. Ready for home. Ready to get the heck out. Forget the fact that we'd been charged $10 for the tasting, then reimbursed due to our long wait, then asked to pay again. Oy. Let me out.
Mouth value: Much of the winetasting experience has to do with the ambiance, so I'll be candid in the fact that my frustration, the wait, the staff and the crowd may have colored my patience. Of the six wines we tasted, among the only ones that stood out as interesting were the 2001 Limited Edition Dollarhide Ranch Chardonnay ($30) with a nice butter flavor and a sweet tropical spiciness. The term "cinnamon toast" was tossed around. So were some rather tasty four letter words after we waited another seven minutes to get our glass filled. We also liked the 2002 Virtu White Méritage ($25). With the citrus and flower of a Sauvignon Blanc tempered with the creaminess of Semillon and some nice oak, it's a departure from the usual brightness of Sauvignon Blanc. Having tasted some powerful Napa Cabernets throughout the day, we were less impressed with the St. Supéry Cabs; they felt weak and a little insecure in comparison.
Don't miss: Wander through Dean and Deluca, the New York gourmet grocer come to Napa. The wine selections are astounding, the cheese is stupefying, the candy is classy and the spices and rubs are worth a trip alone. You'll lighten your wallet considerably, but think how cool you'll look opening up one of those little tin spice cans the next time you cook. Dean and Deluca, 607 S. St. Helena Hwy., St. Helena, 707.967.9980.
Spot: St. Supéry Winery, 8440 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford, Open 10am to 5pm. $10 tasting fee. 800.942.0809.
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From the March 2-8, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.