Wine review: 2006 Ste. Chapelle Riesling – Idaho, USA

Cafe Paragon in Providence, RI has been a favorite of me and my closest friends for almost a decade. We always had gone there to celebrate birthdays, get together for the holidays and sometimes just to have a really good meal. The food is excellent, and it has compensated for the horrible and rude service for all these years.

Last night was no different. One of my friends was up from North Carolina where he is going to graduate school, he was in the area for some job interviews. The other friend took a break from training for a race he has in Vegas next week and came to join. Comparatively, I am the least obligated of the three of us. The point is that we were getting together, which is rare, and we figured Paragon would be the ideal place.

Now you have made it to the third paragraph, you are probably wondering when I am going to talk about the wine I had mentioned in the title. Well, soon, don’t you worry. See, talking about a wine just for its own sake would kind of be like talking to you about Michael Jordan without mentioning the Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s. What is that supposed to mean? A good wine is nothing without a proper context, and the context for this great wine I had last night is clearly important enough for me to spend two hundred words setting up that context for you. So now to the wine.

I had picked the Ste. Chapelle mostly for its price. At $18 for the bottle it was a bargain considering most of the wines ranged from the upper $20’s to lower $40’s. Once the waitress brought the bottle to our table she offered me a taste before I committed (although I wonder if I didn’t like it would she have taken it back) to consuming it. After taking a generous nose I detected the bright, nuanced fragrances of fresh citrus fruit almost immediately, something I had come to expect from a Riesling, but was pleasantly surprised when the mild consistency of the wine took over as I tasted. The Riesling did bring some sweet notes to the back of my palate, but they were actually welcome since it gave the wine great versatility throughout my whole meal, which consisted of grilled chicken glazed with a honey Dijon sauce, squash and zucchini in a light, tangy red sauce, mashed potatoes with a liberal usage of butter and a pretty good crème brûlée for dessert. Ste. Chapelle, being the first wine I had from Idaho left me with a pretty good impression. I found it to be comparable to Rieslings from New England in all the important areas such as how it complements a dish of lighter fare but does not back down when paired with a dessert as let’s say a Pinot Grigio would have, therefore the flavors linger long after the meal is through, making this wine a great value.

I am going to end by saying you should try this wine with chicken or pork. It would overpower a pasta dish unless a lot of garlic were used, and it is too sweet for fish but would work well with scallops or shrimp and even lobster, although I prefer the later with a Chardonnay, this isn’t to say the Ste. Chapelle wouldn’t compliment a baked stuffed lobster well however. As said earlier, it goes well with a dessert like a crème brûlée or anything else custard based, and would probably hold its own with an apple pie or a coconut cake. I ended up enjoying the whole bottle on my own, and since it was 12% ABV it provided me with a pleasant disposition after glass number four. I would like to see what else the state of Idaho can produce in the wine arena, so I will stay on the lookout for more from that region.