Napa Valley Wine Trip

We decided on a whim to take a drive to Napa last Sunday. The weather forecast was for overcast, showery weather, so no working in the yard. The weather became drizzly as we passed Rio Vista. The smell of the first rain was earthy and wonderful. By the time we got to Napa it was raining very hard. The grape smell of the valley was not diminished by the rain and the vines were beautiful variations of green, gold and crimson. We did notice some vineyards had not yet been harvested.

Our plan was to taste at Beaulieu Vineyard (BV), Provenance Winery, Grgich Hill Winery and one randomly chosen winery. As it turns out, that list was a bit optimistic! We managed two wineries and a fabulous lunch at the Rutherford Grill.

We started our tasting at Provenance. Though we were the first ones in the tasting room, several groups were on our heels. So much for the theory that the rainy weather would keep people away! The tasting list was very lengthy. We skipped the whites and went straight for the reds. Well, almost – we managed to snag the last case of 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. Pete prefers the 2008 vintage over 2009, so he asked if the winery had any left and they found a case and one bottle!

I tasted the 2005 Three Palms Merlot and found the color to be a medium ruby with dark fruit and rubber tire on the nose. The flavors of dark fruit and tobacco with moderate, well integrated tannins and good acid. The finish was medium in length. Pete tasted the 2006 Las Amigas Merlot and found it to be medium garnet in color with a light fruit and floral nose. The flavors of medium red fruit, complex flavors and tobacco with a long finish. The tannins were light and Pete thought this wine was outstanding.

Next we were offered a “Library Wine” – the 2003 Las Amigas Merlot. We found it to be a medium ruby color with fruit and spice on the nose. It smelled like an older wine. It tasted like dark fruit, rubber tire and tobacco. The tannins were very smooth and it has more acid than the 2006. As the wine was in the glass longer the nose became more spicy and complex. We thought it would benefit from decanting.

The 2007 Malbec was a medium garnet color. It had a dark fruit nose with a hint of rubber tire in the background. It tasted like dark fruit, with a little vanilla and had a long finish. Pete remarked that it did not remind him of a typical Malbec, but is a very nice wine that is smooth with a light body.

The 2007 Cabernet Franc had a dark ruby color with violet around the edge and a vegetal nose, with jalapeño. The wine tasted like dark fruit mixed with jalapeño and vegetal flavors. Tannins were moderate in amount and well integrated. There is a good amount of acid and a moderately long finish with flavor and little heat.

Next up, the 2006 Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon. The color is a light garnet with a nice spicy dark fruit nose, dark fruit and spice flavors with a bit of vanilla. A medium amount of grippy tannins with a light body and long finish. This wine had more complex flavors than the Rutherford Estate which is described next.

The 2005 Rutherford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon had a dark ruby color with violet along the edges. The nose was of dark fruit and carmel. The nose was slightly restrained. The dark fruit flavors were slightly tart and there was a bit of a vegetal flavor mixed with the fruit. The finish was moderately long. The vegetal influence in the flavor is very pleasant in this wine.

These wines were all excellent. Our favorites were the Cab Franc, Rutherford Cab and the Las Amigas Merlot. My personal favorite was the Cab Franc. I’m a sucker for a good Cab Franc!

As if the above wines were not enough, next we were offered a vertical of the Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon! All three were excellent, well balanced wines. Here are a few notes:

The 2005 Hewett Cabernet Sauvignon (94 points by Wine Spectator and one of the top 100 wines of the world). Most vegetal of the three, rich dark fruit flavors, good acid, well balanced.

2006 Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon (92 points by Wine Spectator). Best of the lot; richer flavors of carmel, spice. Complex fruit flavors, well balanced and a long finish.

2007 Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon (93 points by Wine Advocate). Lighter mouth feel with lots of flavor. Green pepper, fruit, carmel and spice flavors. Most acid of the bunch.

The wine tasting staff were friendly, knowledgeable and generous. Thanks!

In my next post I’ll tell you about our lunch at the Rutherford Grill and tasting at the Miner Family Vineyards.

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