Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Napa Trip - Day 1

Megan and I just got back from Napa/Sonoma valleys, where we had an awesome trip exploring tons of wineries and loving every minute of it. The next few blog posts will outline our 3 days there and will have lots of pictures and information about all the wine tasting that we did, as well as about our cottage we stayed in and the restaurants were we dined. ENJOY!

Going over the Golden Gate Bridge

which way to Ferrari - Carano?

Day 1 - We left San Francisco, minus our luggage that did not arrive with us the night before, enjoying the beautiful views of the San Francisco bay...eagerly awaiting our first tastes back in the California Wine Country. On our way up to the Russian River Valley, we stopped in Healdsburg to get some lunch goodies from the Oakville Grocery. It is a great market with tons of cheeses and fresh made to order sandwiches, that are great for picnic supplies
Oakville Grocery Store - Healdsburg

Stop 1 - Our first stop of the day was Ferrari - Carano (you might have heard of it). As you can tell from the pictures below, their winery is palatial. Upon entering the tasting room we discover that they have two tastings, one for $5 dollars that tasted most of the wine they regularly distribute and then a $15 dollar tasting of wines down in the barrel room that includes reserve wines and wines that only go to wine club members and or tasting room patrons. We opted for two of the $15 tastings and split the list of 8 wines. The room that the tasting was conducted in was beautiful and adjacent to one of their barrel rooms, with lovely wood furniture and ornate iron chandeliers. Here is a list of what we had for tasting 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, 2004 Forella Chardonnay, 2004 Tre Terre Chardonnay, 2004 Reserve Chardonnay, 2003 Zin, 2002 Syrah, 2003 Sangiovese, 2002 Tresor. All of these wines were fantastic but I will comment on the 3 we purchased all of which are not distributed to the east cost for wholesale. The 2005 Sauvignon Blanc was great and is different from their Fume Blanc you may have seen on the shelves, and includes in addition to the Sauv. Blanc a bit of a Muscat Clone. It offeres great apricot and floral notes with peach and honeydew following in the mouth, with a very smooth mouthfeel and not as tart as some Sauv. Blancs. Our 2nd favorite/purchase was the 2003 Sangiovese which is completely dry farmed for that extra umph. It was delicious with blueberry, blackberry toast with a nice slightly spicy finish. 3rd favorite/purchase and these are not in any order of preference (just of how I wrote them down) is the 2002 Tresor which is a blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot with Cab Franc and Petit Verdot in the mix as well. The 2002 Tresor had 20 months in oak and aged 24 months in the bottle. Cocoa and Eucalyptus on the nose with a yummy taste of blackberry and raspberry layered nicely with a mild earthiness and a smooth tannic finish. It was an awesome wine!! Megan and I both definitely recommend the extra money for the reserve wines, they are all amazing and most are hard to find on the East coast.

Above are all from Ferrari- Carano
Stop 2 - Yoakim Bridge Winery
Yoakim Bridge is a small 2000 case winery (so everything is sold from the tasting room or wine club) in the Dry Creek Valley, just a ways down the road from Ferrari-Carrano. They have estate grown Zin and purchase all of the other grapes from local Dry Creek growers. The winemaker and owner is David Cooper who does everything in the winery by himself which is truly amazing. Check out the picture below of Megan and David in the winery, where he is displaying his beautiful Cabernet that is needing another punch down. David only has red wine and they are all fantastic. For tasting were the 2002 Zin, 2004 Merlot, 2003 Cuvee (Cab. Franc, Merlot, and Cab Sauv.) 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2002 Syrah. Our favorite and purchase from Yoakim was the Zinfandel. Beautiful with spicy raspberry that wasn't too jammy, great chocolate and long finish. The Zin was estate grown, and blended with 6% Cabernet Sauvignon from Wallace Creek Vinyeard.


Megan with Yoakim Bridge winemaker - David Cooper
Stop 3 - Seghesio
Seghesio is another winery that most of you have probably heard, and there Sonoma Valley Zin is usually a staple on a lot of wine lists. Well Seghesio was tasting 5 wines that day, but we got to taste a few extra due to our enthusiasm and great discussion we were having with the tasting room associate who was a Seghesio herself (daughter of the current winemaker). Again, all of the wines we tasted were fantastic and here is a list of what we tasted. 2005 Pinot Grigio (light fruity and crisp), 2004 Costiera Pinot Noir (blackberry, cherry, not too earthy), 2004 Sangiovese (spicy, tobacco and earth), 2004 Cortina Zin (jammy dark fruit, spicy followed up with cocoa) and the 2004 Old Vine (black raspberry, not as spicy, smooth). Those were the 5 wines that everybody got, the next 3 are ones that we got to taste special - 2004 Saini Zin (similar to the Cortina, with lots of rich chocolate and raspberry), 2004 Home Ranch Zin (1896 Vines, smoother than the other zins, still spicy, with jammy dark fruit flavors), and 2004 San Lorenzo which wasn't even for sale (a great wine probably the "lightest" zin of the bunch, a great Zin for beginners. Seghesio was great and all of there wines were fantastic, we signed up for their wine club so we will be getting 2 bottles qtrly. 2 of which are already on the way. Yummy. We also ate our lunch at Seghesio with a nice bottle of water due to all the wine we had been having (I needed to drive some more haha). They have a beautiful picnic area and it was a beautiful sunny California day.


Megan at Seghesio
Stop 4 - Landmark Winery
We hit Landmark was me made our way South through Sonoma county towards the Glen Ellen Inn. Landmark is most famous for the Overlook Chardonnay that you might have seen at Costco. Our favorite and the bottle we purchased was the 2004 Damaris Reserve Chardonnay. It was lovely with nice light fruit aromas accented by apple and pear with a great taste of hazlenut and caramel, a truly yummy chardonnay. Our other favorite was the 2004 Syrah that was completely organic. It seemed lighter than most Syrah's (which we like) and was filled with aromas of black raspberry, a smooth mouthfeel and a spicy finish. Landmark is farely small by California standards producing around 15,000 cases. They have beautiful surroundings and are a great place to have a picnic. (although we didn't).


Tasting bar at Landmark, with a beautiful mural

We headed on down the road to Glen Ellen which is about 12 miles North of downtown Sonoma. We had eatin at the Glen Ellen Inn last year when we were in wine country and remebered that they had six cottages out back along the creek for guests to stay. You check in at the bar in the restaurant and get your key. We were in Cottage number 2. Check out the pictures below, isn' t it awesome.

Top picture of our cottage, bottom is of the courtyard out of room

That night for dinner we dined in the downtown Sonoma at the Girl and Fig, a great cozy restaurant that focuses on fresh local ingredients which is always great, especially when you are a vegetarian. I definitely recommend them, and they are a well known fixture in the Sonoma Valley.

All of the wines that we purchased on the trip were wines that you are not able to purchase back in Richmond. So even if we went to larger wineries we purchased the small lot stuff, that we knew would be a special addition to our "wine cellar". All in all we came home with 2 cases of wine, stay tuned for Days 2 and 3 to come in the next week.

Swirl, Sniff, Sip.

1 comment:

Dezel said...

Hi John,

Sounds and looks like a great day # 1. Lots of wine and many things accomplished. I really like the pictures you took of the tasting rooms, the first one looks very nice and elegant, and yep, the mural is beautiul.

That Sangiovese sounds nice, every time I pick one up its always thin and lacking, I will look for some examples from NAPA.

The cottage also looks nice, I’m sure breakfast was filling. Matter of fact I’m going to check the Glen Ellen web site and check it out.

Nice post, looking forward to your next few days in sunny CA.

Happy Sipping!

Dezel