Napa Valley Wine Trip Part 2

After Tasting all the wines at Provenance we decided we wanted to get some food before tackling any more wine. Also, having spent 2 hours at Provenance it was past lunch time so we went down the road a mile or two and stopped at the Rutherford Grill. They said it would be an hour wait and it had started raining again so we had to wait inside. The aroma of the wood oven was making us very hungry! We thought about walking next door to Beaulieu Vineyardsf (BV) but in the end decided to just wait in the restaurant. It turned out the wait was much shorter, so it worked out well. Pete had the crab cakes and I had the roasted chicken sandwich. The food was really good, the smokiness from the wood oven really came through. We just had water to drink because we were going to taste more wine after lunch!

During lunch, we decided to skip BV because it was getting late and we wanted to try a winery we had never been to before. We cut over to the Silverado Trail and headed south. After a short drive Pete saw a sign for Miner Family Vineyards and quickly made a left into their driveway. There were a few other cars in the parking lot and when we entered the tasting room the tasting bar was full. We grabbed a wine list and Pete reached in to pay for our tasting. We shared a tasting since we were driving home from here and Pete didn’t want to have to much. We were given a glass of their 2009 Viognier, Simpson Vineyard. We moved over to a temporary bar at the other end of the tasting room so I could take notes on my iPad. After a few minutes Rachel, one of the tasting room staff, came over to talk to us. She was so nice and friendly. She brought over wines for us to taste so we didn’t have to crowd in at the main tasting room bar. As we were tasting she told us about the history of the winery and the Miner family. She took us over to a large window over looking the area used for storing wine recently placed in the barrel. Close by there was a map indicating the location of all the Miner Family vineyards which Rachel outlined for us. Then, Rachel surprised us by suggesting a tour of the winery and wine caves! On our way through the winery we saw a container of grapes being punched down. Rachel explained they were Grenache, and that they would undoubtedly become part of a blend. Next we were given a tour of the wine caves. The entry contains a large table perfect for large private tastings or dinners. We stepped down from here into the caves themselves (25,000 sq. ft). What a wonderful aroma greeted us! We also did a barrel tasting of the 2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine showed a lot of potential with significant tannins and delicious fruit. It is one we want to revisit in a couple of years when it is bottled. I guess we had better add it to our calendar so we don’t forget.

Here’s a summary of what we tasted:

2009 Viognier, Simpson Vineyard – The grapes for this wine came John Simpson’s vineyard in Madera, California in the Central Valley. This wine has a beautiful floral nose. It is dry fermented with nice bitter orange and lemony flavors and a nice amount of acid. The finish is fairly long with the bitter orange flavor.

2007 Chardonnay, Wild Yeast – This was aged in oak, 50% new, 50% used but still felt a little over-oaked for our taste (we tend to like un-oaked Chardonnay). The nose showed some vanilla and spice from the oak and there was a fair amount of vanilla in the flavor. The wine had plenty of acid and was nice but we do like to taste the grape more than the wood.

2007 Malbec, Napa Valley – This is the second year they have produced a Malbec. It had a nice dark ruby color with a nose of dark fruit with a little vanilla and spice. The wine was well balanced with moderate tannins and dark fruit. We are used to drinking Argentinian Malbec’s so, I am not sure what the typical characteristics of a Napa Valley Malbec are. I guess that will have to be another trip and try Malbec at multiple Napa wineries!

2008 Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – We were expecting a Cab next, but Rachel said she had something for us to try first. It was a 2008 Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir with the grapes from the Santa Lucia Highlands. (Note from Pete: Since we were expecting a Cab I was a little thrown by the nose and flavor but Nancy immediately recognized it as a Pinot Noir.) It had a light ruby color and an earthy, smokey, brambly nose. The flavors followed the nose, tart fruit and earthy flavors and were more Burgundian (i.e. not over ripe and heavy). This was a very nice Pinot Noir and a nice change from the big fruit forward Pinots you often find. They hand-punch down this wine and spend a lot of time developing it.

2007 Stagecoach Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – Real nice nose, dark fruit and vanilla. Dark ruby color, with a lot of dark fruit, spice and just a trace of green pepper in the flavor. This wine has a light body with a lot of flavor, moderate tannins and a nice medium length finish. We couldn’t leave without a couple of bottles of this wine.

2004 and 2006 Oracle – We tasted both vintages to see the differences. The wines were similar with nice dark fruit noses, nicely balanced with big tannins, nice acid and a long finish of tannin and fruit. The biggest difference was the 2004 had more concentrated flavors with a little green pepper. The Oracle is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. I could really taste the Cabernet Franc influence.

We are very glad we chose to try Miner Family Vineyard wines. They were all very well made and Rachel made our experience very fun and informational. Thank you Rachel! We recommend a stop here whenever you’re in Napa Valley!

What a great day. We tasted wonderful wines, had a great lunch and managed to really enjoy the first rainy day of Fall! Can’t ask for more than that.

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