Swirl n’ Spit
Tasting Room of the Week
By Heather Irwin
Lowdown: It was a disgustingly perfect day–sunny and warm with just a lick of a breeze and the heady scent of spring swirling through the vineyards. Some days it takes a good, stiff pinch to come back down to earth when you’re traveling through Sonoma County. But we’re not ready for reality just yet. As we pull up to the fairy-castle-like Chateau Souverain, we decide to play out the fantasy of being manor-born, independently wealthy and gadding about as we wait for our afternoon polo match.
It’s a steep climb to the tasting room in my Manolo knockoffs, but eminently worth it to rest for a moment by the cool fountain and a chance to survey our, er, the Chateau Souverain estate. Inside the tasting room, the staff is anything but haughty, quickly greeting guests and attentively pouring. Good help is so hard to find, you know. We’re treated to a few extra pours (being part of the social elite, bien sur) by a friendly staff who seem eager to please. Finishing up, we wander through the winery’s in-house restaurant, the Alexander Valley Grill, which recently reopened after a winter hiatus. Not entirely hungry, we’re ready to move on.
Jeeves, call the car around, won’t you, darling?
Mouth value: Chateau Souverain has some of my very favorite white wines. They’re completely approachable, inexpensive and just darned yummy. The Alexander Valley ’03 Sauvignon Blanc ($14) is exactly what I think a Sauvignon Blanc should be–ripe and lusty with some obvious muskiness of melon and peach. It’s the kind of wine that just makes the lips smack with happiness. The Sonoma County Chardonnay ($17) has lots of spice and smoke, with its eight months of French oak aging coming through loud and clear. The Rosé de Souverain ($12) is a dainty, pink pluck of a wine with bright cherry and strawberry notes. The best of the reds is the Winemaker’s Reserve ’00 Cabernet Sauvignon ($35), which is like a chocolate-covered cherry–dark, deep, luscious and thick, with a note of maple on a long finish. Decadent.
Five-second snob: Chateau Souverain has changed hands numerous times in its history and was at one time owned by Pillsbury. Currently, the winery is owned by Beringer Blass Wine Estates, which also owns Beringer, Étude, Chateau St. Jean, Meridian, Stags Leap and a number of other wineries based in Australia and Italy. See if you can taste any similarities in style among their wines.
Spot: Chateau Souverain, 400 Souverain Road, Geyserville. Open daily, 10am to 5pm. $5 tasting fee. 888.80.WINES.
From the March 16-22, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.