bottle of wine with glasses

Wine of the Week

The Press Democrat
June 10, 2024

This Napa Valley winery is owned by Chanel. It produces one of the most elegant Sauvignon Blancs in Wine Country

The secret to St. Supéry’s excellent Sauvignon Blanc — including our Wine of the Week winner — is its high-altitude Dollarhide Vineyard. -Peg Melnik

Some wonder how Rutherford’s St. Supéry, a prized Cabernet Sauvignon producer, can also excel in making its fraternal twin — Sauvignon Blanc.

The answer lies in the winery’s Dollarhide vineyard.

Perched in the northeastern hills of Napa Valley, the vineyard is located at an altitude that ranges between 600 and 1,100 feet. Enjoying cooler overnight temperatures, it delivers Sauvignon Blanc grapes with great acidity.

This high-altitude fruit is what made the winery a standout in The Press Democrat’s Wine of the Week blind tasting, snagging first place with its St. Supéry, 2023 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($28). Refreshing with crisp acidity, it has notes of grapefruit and lime, and a hint of jalapeño.

A wine worth waiting for

Michael Scholz, Vice President of Winemaking and Vineyards at St. Supéry, said the house style he’s aiming for highlights the purity of the variety, with bright, fresh and elegant fruit-driven wines.

The most challenging part of making Sauvignon Blanc is usually the weather, the winemaker explained.

“In good years, it’s a dream,” he said. “In other years, it tries our patience and makes us reach and stretch our knowledge. Capturing the correct flavor profile in the vineyard is important. The vintage 2023 was an extraordinary year.”

With cool weather and above-average rains delaying the grape harvest last year, winemakers then had a frantic sprint to pick before the November rains arrived.

“The 2023 growing season was entirely about patience,” Scholz said.

“A long, wet winter and spring filled our lakes and nourished the soils. With the cooler start to the season, bud break was several weeks behind average. The longer hang time allowed the fruit to catch optimum ripening, creating a superb vintage with bright, fresh white wines that show varietal flavors and textures.”

A winery with a sense of style

Founded in 1982, St. Supéry focuses on Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varieties. Today, the winery grows more than 9% of Napa Valley’s Sauvignon Blanc.

Purchased by Chanel in 2015, it is one of a few Napa Valley wineries that produces and bottles 100% estate-grown wines. The winery and its vineyard are also Napa Green certified sustainable.

Scholz’s agricultural roots make him a natural fit for St. Supéry.

The winemaker grew up on an old vineyard estate in the renowned wine-producing Barossa Valley region in South Australia. His family has been farming for six generations.

“I earned my pocket money by doing farm and vineyard work,” he said. “My vision was to grow grapes, and I later extended that to winemaking.”

Scholz earned a Bachelor of Science in Oenology from Roseworthy Agricultural College, just north of Adelaide, before honing his skills at wineries in France, South Africa and the United States. He joined St. Supéry in 1996.

What people would find most surprising about the winemaker, according to Scholz, is his canine wine companion.

“I have a terrific vineyard dog,” he said. “He’s named Angus Herbert Scholz the First.”

June 11, 2024

Categories: In the PressInside St. SupéryPressScores and AccoladesThe Chronicles

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