Swirl n' Spit
Folie à Deux
By Heather Irwin
Lowdown: On the label of every bottle of Folie à Deux wine, you'll find two odd little dancing pixies. Unless, of course, you see something very different--say, an angry clown that reminds you of your abandonment issues. In that case, you'll perhaps need to drink a few more bottles and consider the fact that the pixies are, in fact, a modified Rorschach ink blot. Just the sort of humor you'd expect from two psychiatric professionals who decided to start a winery.
"Folie à deux" is actually a French term meaning "shared fantasy," or, if you're a psychologist, a sort of delusional madness among several people. Yep, more therapist humor, which the tasting-room staff are more than happy to explain, along with a rather saucy explanation for new(ish) label Ménage à Trois, should you need a definition.
The original owners, however, have moved on, with the winery changing hands twice, most recently to Trinchero Family Estates, the owners of Sutter Home, Trinity Oaks, Montevina and several other large winery properties. So far, not much has changed in the laid-back St. Helena tasting room, aside from the addition of several higher-end Trinchero wines to the tasting lineup, and word is that the label will continue on. Good news for the dancing pixies--or whatever it is you happen to see.
Mouth value: If you're new to wine, or just want a good picnic or party wine, the Ménage à Trois wines--white, red and rosè--are tasty blends of three grape varietals (hence the name) that sell for about $12 each. More serious are the winery's Amador County Zinfandels, which are generally thoughtful, well-crafted wines. I liked the '02 Amador Zin ($18), because of its softness and complexity, over the brashness of the 2000 ($22). Made from grapes closer to home, the 2000 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($26) is award-winning, with a toasty, tobacco nose, though the '01 Estate Reserve ($42) is a drop-dead winner, if you can shell out the cash.
Five second snob: The tasting room is located in a historic home that once belonged to a Spanish prize-fighter who retired to tend sheep and raise wine. What would Freud say about that?
Spot: 3070 N. St. Helena Hwy, St. Helena. Open daily, 10am to 5pm. Tasting flight, $10. 1.800.473.4454.
From the August 17-23, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.