CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My affection for wine is rekindled each time I visit a working winery and observe not only the amazing process of transforming sweet grape juice into wine, but also the passion of the people who grow the grapes and make the finished product.
At St. Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery, in California's Napa Valley, that passion endures and is, indeed, infectious due in large measure to the vision and enthusiasm of the winery's founder.
Inspired by legendary winemaker Robert Mondavi, St. Supery owner Robert Skalli fell in love with the Napa Valley in the early 1970s and searched for nearly a decade to find the perfect site to establish his own vineyard and winery.
Skalli, whose wine roots go back three generations from Algeria to Corsica and then to France, found a remote ranch in the eastern mountains of Napa Valley in 1982. The 1,500-acre property, known as the Dollarhide Ranch, became the primary vineyard site for St. Supery, now renowned as one of the shining stars of Napa Valley.
With nearly 500 acres of vineyards, the majority of the site is planted to sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon with a substantial planting of chardonnay along with Bordeaux blending grapes such as merlot, malbec and cabernet franc. There is also 12 acres of Semillon, a grape which is a particular favorite of mine and of which St. Supery has no domestic peer in my humble opinion.
To round out the St. Supery estate, Skalli purchased a 35-acre vineyard along the Napa Valley floor. Known as the Rutherford Estate, the vineyards are predominantly cabernet sauvignon and merlot with a sprinkling of petite verdot and cabernet franc. The Rutherford Estate also contains the winery, tasting room and visitor center.
I have always enjoyed the wines of St. Supery, especially its world-class sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. This Napa Valley winery produces a consistently exceptional portfolio of wines that are characterized by supple and silky smoothness.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the winery and tasting my way through the estate's portfolio of wines. I came away very impressed with St. Supery's offerings. The good news for West Virginia residents is that most of the wines are available at local wine shops and restaurants. Here are my tasting notes for your perusal.
2011 Estate Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($20): Crisp flavor of citrus is balanced by hints of honeydew melon in this stainless-steel-fermented wine. One of my favorite sauvignons in California. Excellent accompaniment to pan-sautéed grouper with a touch of butter and lemon.