Saunter Wines – two reviewed

Saunter wines, in St. Helena California, is quite literally a family affair that has the husband and wife team of Josh and Heather Clark – arms-length deep into the vino. It’s a botique winery in the truest sense of the word and the work they put into their bottles seems to come oozing out with each pour.

The Clark’s are not some pretentious “wine snobs” that act as if they have it all figured out but instead look to produce wines that reflect their region and personalities in an approachable way.

Josh works the vineyard, Heather keeps the internal stuff rolling and their winemaker, Thomas Brown makes the wine.

In this review, I sample their first two releases, a cab and petite sirah:

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – W.E.P. Rating: 80%

Technical Data:

  • Appellation: Clark-Claudon Vineyard – backside of Howell Mountain
  • Price $65

Nose: Classic cherry and raspberry components coming through along with that of a freshly struck match. I’m also picking up a slight hint of fresh-cut, wet grass mixed in with an almost obnoxious amount of black pepper and shoe polish.

Taste: Deep, concentrated cherry flavor – almost like a cherry reduction sauce – mixed in with freshly ground peppper and coca cola. I get some nice earthniess coming thru across the mid palate where it starts layering in overtones of black currant, rhubarb, tar, leather and dark chocolate. A good cab but a bit pricey compared to other cabs of similar or better quality.

2007 Petite Sirah – W.E.P. Rating: 75%

Technical Data:

  • Appellation: Napa Valley – Palisides Vineyard (Carver-Sutro)
  • Price: $45

Nose: Blueberries, blackberries, pencil lead. Pan toasted spices, cassis, corriander.

Taste: Good structure in its mouthfeel but still a bit tight – really seems “youthful” – should age for a long time. Tongue gets splashed in blaclkberries, plums, blueberries and pendcil lead. Good mid-palate transistion with hints of vanilla and “Christmas spices’ coming through. The end could be better and I’m sure it will be with more time in the bottle but right now it’s a bit too tight and hot.

I realize with such small production the prices are where they’re at on the Saunter wines – I get it but you should ultimately seek them out and try them yourselves. They’re great people and make good wines, however, I think they might be a hard sell to most folks in this economy right now when we have wines from other great regions like Washington State or Chile that are producing equally good wines for lower price points.

Winery website: