Day 5, Saturday, October 29
What a great day to be in Napa Valley. The morning was crisp and clear with temps heading for the mid 70s. I do believe this is my second favorite place on earth. The first is right where I live.
The morning began with a car caravan to Redmon Winery in St. Helena. We tasted here with Lisa Redmon-Mangelson, the owner, last year and were blown away by her wines. She makes three varietals, Chardonnay, Cab and a Cab blend, all in small lots of 250 cases or less. She gives a great talk about how they got started and how they have gotten to where they are now. We brought some of each home with us plus joined their wine club. Here is what the website says about the Chard: “Crisp and fruity, the flavors combine with hints of melon, white peach and apple”. Their 08 Cab blend comes from the Garvey Vineyard in Rutherford. “A blend of Cab, Merlot and Cab Franc is a fruit forward and very approachable wine. Milk Chocolate (Mrs. Hawkeye’s favorite) anise, cassis and dark berry compliment the soft tannins”. The 08 Cab comes from their estate vineyard in St. Helena. “Black cherry, raspberry, Asian spice and cassis blend together”. One of my favorite Cabs of the week. I have now tasted the 06, 07 and 08 and all were outstanding. Very limited supply. The group loaded up and several joined the wine club.
Our next visit was at one of my favorite places in the Valley, Chase Family Cellars. We have gotten to be good friends with Jeff Blaum the winery manager. In addition to tasting wine today, we were to have a BBQ lunch, and what a spread they arranged for us. There was pulled pork BBQ, beef ribs, salad, cole slaw and lots of the great Chase Zin. Jeff was supposed to be there for the group but had tickets for the last game of the World Series. Guess which he chose? In his place, Katie Simpson, winery owner and Rebecca Martin, hospitality hosted us. I will have to say that we got the best of the deal as they were much prettier than Jeff. We tasted the Savignon Blanc, Cab, 07 and 08 Hayne Vineyard Zins all of which were very good. But we had to settle on one and it was the 08 Hayne Vineyard Reserve. From their website: The 2008 Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel Reserve is made from our favorite five barrels of juice from the 105 year-old vines. Darker and a little more complex than the Estate Zinfandel the reserve is a great bottle to let age a bit. With just over 100 cases produced this wine is a certainly a collector's Zin. We paid $35.00 per person for lunch and wine. Normally there is no tasting fee.
From Chase we went to the Cab house, Baldacci Winery. They make several Cabs from various appellations around the valley. If you want to compare Cabs from different appellations, this is the place to go. Since it was such a glorious day, the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky, we sat outside for our tasting. Our favorite was their Diamond Mountain Cab but because we already had some in our cooler at home, we did not purchase here. Several of the group did, however. The tasting fee was $10.00.
The last stop of the day was to taste J. Gregory Cellars owned by Mark and Kandice Jessup. Mark was a previous owner and winemaker for Jessup Cellars in Yountville, and Kandice many of you will remember as the tasting room manager at Biale, now promoting her own label. We were invited to their home which was clear at the end of the Silverado Trail and then some. They really put on a spread for us on their patio overlooking views of the valley. There were cheeses, meats, bread, crackers, olives, etc., etc. to enjoy with their 06, 07 and 08 Cabs. What a great flight tasting it was. They are so new that their label is in the process of being printed and we would have to wait to have our order shipped. Also, we were treated to a tasting of Bure Family Wines hosted by Mark’s son Adam. This is a winery that I have never heard of, but there are probably lots of those. The owner, who is from Russia, used to play professional hockey for the Montreal Canadians. We ordered the 09 Cab to be shipped when Jessup ships our order. What a great way to end the day and none of the group was interested in dinner.
Since several of the group were leaving on Sunday morning, we said our goodbyes, vowing to come back next year. My wife and I had three more days of tasting before we had to leave.