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white wine in napa. . . off the beaten path

i'm planning on heading up to napa to do some wine tasting after the holiday crowds clear out. we've been up there a number of times so we've done the basic stretch so we're looking to try something new.

the additional kicker is that although we both drink red wine (mostly on the lighter side, cab sav rarely), we prefer white. we drink alot of new zealand sav blancs and are looking for a place where we might encounter a wine or two that approximates this. do these places exist in napa? we've previously been to and enjoyed: krug, grgich hill, cakebread. are there places off the main stretch that we've missed?

thanks a ton! :)

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  1. Get an appointment at Stony Hill. They've been making chardonnay there since the early 1950's.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Paul H

      Duckhorn makes our favorite Sauvignon Blanc. It's a lovely spot too. I think it is nearer St. Helena. I recommend it very highly.We drink more white then red too.

      If you want to try the wine-I think they serve a half bottle at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville, The food there is excellent-great for lunch.

      I am envious-have a wonderful time!

    2. Keep in mind that *no* Sauvignon Blanc produced in Napa will be exactly like an SB from Marlborough. That said . . .

      Duckhorn's SB is indeed very good. The wiery itself is much better known for its Cabernet and Merlot, but the SB is worth the trip. http://www.duckhorn.com/

      Another fine Sauvignon Blanc is produced by Araujo, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Musque and a touch of Viognier. http://www.araujoestatewines.com/

      This is also true of Spottswoode, minus the Viognier. http://www.spottswoode.com/

      Groth Sauvignon Blanc is also worthwhile. http://www.grothwines.com/

      One of my favorite Napa SBs is St.-Supéry. http://www.stsupery.com/

      Another that shouldn't be missed is Honig. http://www.honigwine.com/

      And one shouldn't overloook Frog's Leap, which helped put Napa SB back on the map since they started in 1981. http://www.frogsleap.com/

      The recommendation of Paul's to visit Stony Hill is a great one. This is NOT your fat, oaky Napa Chardonnay. Since the late 1950s, Stony Hill has made excellent Chardonnays that develop and age beautifully (unlike most Napa Chards). http://www.stonyhillvineyard.com/

      Smith-Madrone, high up Spring Mountain, produces an outstanding dry Riesling that is, IMHO, a must buy. http://www.smithmadrone.com/index.htm

      Chappellet has long made a dry Chenin Blanc that will surprise and delight. http://www.chappellet.com/

      Hope this helps . . .

      1. Not really NZ SB like, you could go up Spring Mountain and taste the Chardonnays and Rieslings of Smith-Madrone, and then to Crocker and Starr in St. Helena and taste the Sauvignon Blanc there (which is truly excellent, by the way). If you're going to be near Yountville you can check out Mason -- they make a very good SB for the price.

        1 Reply
        1. re: whiner

          Both Zin1953 and Whiner are on the money (as usual). Charles Krug used to make an OK SB, but it's not as good as it has been in recent years and the above recs are better than what you'll find there. I'd follow their advice exactly, and include Smith-Madrone for the Riesling, Chateau Potelle for the view, and possibly Pine Ridge for the Chenin Blanc-Viognier.

        2. Consider Smith-Madrone on Spring Mountain - besides a quaffable Chardonnay, they make the valley's BEST Riesling.

          Most wineries do either a Sauvblanc and/or a Chardonnay so you won't have a problem tasting whites at most places you'll stop.

          1. try Chateau Potelle, it's off of the Oakville Grade about 3 1/2 miles from 29, I think on Dry Creek - you'll see a sign post and I'm guessing they have a web site
            while not a NZ equivalent it's good and the place is fun and a good picnic spot

            1. Good suggestions, especially from PaulH and zin1953. I didn't yet spot any mention of it so I'll add that the weekly wine article in the Friday Wall Street Journal (by Gaiter and Brecher) addressed exactly this issue on May 18 -- SBs that avoid the old standard California style, "junior Chardonnay" buried in oak.

              Relevant points from the "Dow Jones American Sauvignon Blanc Index" in the article were recommended wines with Napa appellations: Geyser Peak '06 ("Best Value"), Groth '06, Joseph Phelps '05, and Voss Vineyards '05. (Others were from Sonoma Co. and elsewhere.)

              I know what the OP means about New Zealand SBs, they have become very popular in the US. Also South African. (A local wine merchant once said to me, "you can actually taste the fruit!")

              4 Replies
              1. re: eatzalot

                I suspect that Duckhorn may have too much oak to fit with the OP's preferences. Closest I can think of to Marlborough in Napa would be Voss for a very racy and herbal style. Or maybe Mason with a little bit of RS in the finish ala Kiwis. Hope the Napa-ites can tell us if these are available for tasting.

                I love Paul's suggestion for Stony Hill. I'm fonder of the whtie riesling there, especially after a few years (or many) in the cellar, than Smith-Madrone. S-M is a much bigger, riper style. it's mostly a style preference.

                Disclaimer: I know Stu Smith.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Mason & Voss are GREAT suggestions, Melanie

                2. re: eatzalot

                  Nice reference. I totally trust the WSJ, they are always spot on with recommendations. Just a minor correction/FYI - Geyser Peak is in Sonoma (home to many fine Sauv Blancs), not Napa. They are just north of Geyserville...

                  1. re: originalfig

                    Thanks for the correction, originalfig. The appellation given on the wine was indeed just "California." (It also was one of the cheapest wines tasted, blind -- Gaiter and Brecher were impressed with the value.)

                3. Artesa has a lovely chardonnay. Its in the Carneros Region off of Hwy 12 between Napa and Sonoma.
                  Try the Daydream Chardonnay by Reverie Winery on Diamond Mountain. Their tours and tastings are by appointment with Andrew Kiken who is the son of the winemakers. The winery is family owned and opperated and you recieve a very intimate tasting.
                  Folie a Deux's Zin, Menage a Trois Rose & White, and Chardonnay are fantastic
                  Also try Pride Mountain

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fyoulady

                    And Artesa is probably -- hands-down -- one of the most stunning wineries, architecturally and artistically.

                  2. if you're still around, try a glass of Luna Vineyard's FreakOut (by the glass at The Bounty Hunter) -- it's a good one

                    1. Check out Mauritson Sauv Blanc if you can. They're in the Dry Creek area, West of the 101, at Lytton Springs Rd. Grassy nose w/ melon and peach palate notes; good acidity. I still remember this one after several years. They're more about the Rockpile AVA Zins, but the SB is special. http://www.mauritsonwines.com/

                      1. Bennett Lane in Calistoga. Ask for the White Maximus!!!
                        Sauv Blanc 81%, 10% Chardonnay and 2% Muscat, best white in the area.
                        I have been a fan for 3 years now!!!! Tell them Marty sent you, Merideth with take good care of you!!! Envy down the road on Tubbs lane great Chard andf Sauv Blanc, and Atalon's ( off Tubbs Ln) Chard is good but the Keys Merlot, best in Napa!!