California Dreaming on a Summer’s Day. Sure, California offers a welcome diversion in the dead of winter, but its wines are equally appealing any time of year. So, why not turn our attention to the Golden State during the lazy, hazy days of summer?
A lunch at The Modern in New York City with Emma Swain, CEO of St Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, was a perfect precursor to the season. An absolutely exquisite salad of green peas, fresh ricotta cheese, lemon and basil begged to be enjoyed with two of St Supéry’s white wines: its Dollarhide Estate Sauvignon Blanc and Virtu.
Owned by the Skalli Family, St. Supery was established in 1982 with the purchase of the Dollarhide Ranch, previously a cattle and horse ranch, situated in the Rutherford sub-appellation of the Napa Valley. The estate was planted to vines in 1985 and represents the winery’s oldest parcels. The Sauvignon Blanc planted here originally came from Joseph Phelps’ Clone 1 Field Selection.
The St. Supery Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013 brings together a small (19%) proportion of oak aged wine, giving the resulting blend a beautiful roundness and depth on the palate. The wine offers lovely citrus notes and has the ability to age, although it is designed to be fresh and young, which it is.
The Bordeaux-inspired (55% Semillon, 45% Sauvignon Blanc) white blend St. Supery Virtu 2013 is a “white wine for red wine drinkers” and is extremely flexible with food due to its complexity (citrus and floral aromas and flavors), balance and texture.
Also produced with fruit sourced from the Dollarhide Estate, the St. Supery Moscato 2013 ($25) provides a refreshing change of pace. This off-dry wine is nicely balanced and offers up fresh peaches, pears and melon on both the nose and palate.
Keith Webster of Keith Webster Cellars also produces a lovely California Sauvignon Blanc, but with fruit from Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Keith came to California after a stint in Colorado, where he made wine in his garage. Living abroad as a child, with a set of French Godparents, greatly influenced Webster’s winemaking style, which tends toward more Old World sensibilities.
He made only 65 cases of his Webster Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Dry Creek Valley, CA (sold out), which was a wonderful accompaniment to our picnic dinner of cold, rotisserie chicken, summer slaw and corn. Very French in style, this wine is lean, with bright acidity, not too grassy, with stone fruit, some citrus and a mineral finish.
For a selection of easy drinking, wallet-friendly wines, the folks at Delicato Family Vineyards have you covered. Their HandCraft label is headed by Cheryl Delicato herself, with grapes sourced from around the state to craft well-made wines that over-deliver.
HandCraft Chardonnay 2013, California ($13.00) This wine was aged in 100% French oak, yielding notes of caramel and butterscotch on the nose. It is dry, with some ripe melon and Bartlett pear fruit on the palate, along with butterscotch and a woody undercurrent; medium acidity, full body, and medium to long length.
HandCraft Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, California ($13.00) Aged for two months in a blend of French and American oak, this Cab has a splash of Sangiovese in a nod to the Delicato’s Italian heritage. It offers red fruit and slight herbal and wood aromas on the nose; dry with medium+ acidity, full body, medium alcohol, black cherries, black berries, oak and soft, ripe tannins. Overall, it delivers ripe, expressive fruit, slight cocoa in finish; nicely made, especially for the price.
Also from the Delicato family, the La Merika range of wines is named after a star that helped to guide explorers in their treks and includes wines produced with Central Coast (California) fruit.
La Merika Pinot Grigio 2013, Monterey, CA ($13.00) Aromas of melon and floral notes greet the nose. On the palate, the wine is dry, with melon, apple and citrus fruit, along with medium body, medium acidity and medium length.
La Merika Pinot Noir 2013, Central Coast, CA ($15.00) It is challenging to find a good Pinot Noir for under $20; here’s one. Aged in French oak, this wine offers up black raspberry, black cherry, and spice aromas. Dry, with a sweet attack, the wine displays an herbal undercurrent with bright cherry fruit on the palate, culminating in medium+ length.