WINE & SPIRITS
CRISP, COOL BOTTLES FROM THE ROLLING VINEYARDS OF THE WEST COAST
Too often, a wine region gets pegged as a one-variety town. In the case of Napa, it's clearly those big, brilliant Cabernets—Caymus, Opus One, Stags' Leap—that capture our attention and go marvelously with our New York strips. However, there are some great white wines to be found in the Napa and Sonoma regions.
SAINTS UNIFIED (click photo for larger view)
Here are seven stand-out whites that I've discovered in recent tastings:
1. Months that have the letter "r" in them are the right ones to eat oysters—i.e. March, being prime oyster season. In the annual Pacific oyster/wine pairing competition, Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc has come out as the number-one wine pairing for oysters for six years running. During a tasting conducted by winemaker Mick Schroeter, I sipped a Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2006 against both Kumamoto and the rare, tiny Olympia oysters, and I found a match oyster lovers refer to as the "bliss factor."
2. Another consistently awarded Napa Sauvignon blanc is St. Supery. I was awestruck by the 2009 vintage, which has bright aromatics and beautiful citrus notes of lime, ruby grapefruit and guava. Robert Skalli, the maverick winery owner who first pioneered the revival of Languedoc-Roussillon, told me the story of his expanding to America and starting St. Supery. In 1982, he purchased the Dollarhide Ranch, a 1,500-acre property high in the eastern mountains of Napa Valley with a wild bio-diverse terrain. St. Supery, Napa's largest family-owned estate, has been certified "Napa Green"; the wines reflect the wondrous natural terroir.
3. The boutique winery Captûre, on Pine Mountain in Sonoma, has vineyards rising to 2,400 feet above the Alexander Valley floor. Winemaker Denis Malbec hailed from Chateau Latour and makes a nuanced white Bordeaux-style wine. The Captûre Sauvignon Blanc 2008 has elegance and a bright minerality.