My Hubby & I decided to go to California to be with his Mom on her 80th birthday and visit San Fransisco and Napa.
First of all; I would suggest if you are going to Napa; go early in the day. We got to the first winery at 10 a.m. and by 1:30 the traffic was bumper to bumper. There are 2 main roads (both are 2 lane): Highway 29 & Silverado Trail. Both start at the city of Napa and go North to Calistoga. If you can, stay on Silverado and cross over to 29 if you have to.
I limited myself to 4 wineries and only sampled wines that were of interest to me. I learned my limits a few years ago when again we were visiting my Mom-in-Law and I did 5 wineries and sampled almost everything they had to offer. I remember sitting next to her at a casino slot machine, drunk texting people….not a good thing…
Corison was the first winery. Just to let you know, we were there on a Saturday and most small wineries ask you to make an appointment. I called at 9:45 and said we will be there in 15 min. and that was o.k. with them.
Cathy Corison does lower alcohol level Cabernet Sauvignon than most winemakers.Hers are in the 13’s while most tend to be in the 14’s. I really like that. It makes her wines easy to drink and pairable with all kinds food. And I don’t think she has lost any flavor or body by doing that. I bought two of her Cabernet Sauvignon’s; 2006 & 2002. The 2006 was a lighter version of the 2002 and I hope will be just as rich & velvety as 2002. I really wanted to get the 2005 “Kronos” which is only from old Cabernet vines on a small section of her property, but I had to remember I had a budget. I also bought the 2005 Gewurztraminer. The smell was lemon, peach, honey and the taste was citrus & mineral with a long finish.
The next stop was Chateau Montelena where I did a Library Tasting. I felt like I had to at least experience the “Legend” of one of the wineries (the other was Stag’s Leap) that beat the French in a blind tasting and put American wines on the map. Rent “Bottle Shock” if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
At the Library Tasting we had 2003 Chardonnay, 2004 Zinfandel, two 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon; one was Napa & the other was from a small section of the Estate. The last one was a 2005 Riesling that was quite lovely and refreshing; which I bought. As for the others; I enjoyed all of them,but I bought the Zinfandel. It was layered with dark spicy fruit and did not have that hot bite that Zinfandel tends to get. I hate to say this but the Cabernets did not knock my socks off and one of them was $135!
Toward the end of the tasting I quietly told the gal that was helping us that I just got my Sommelier certification and was tickled to be here. Well she announces in a loud voice ” So you are a Sommelier! Let me ask you a question!” I feel the 5 other people in the room whip around stare at me and I start to have a hot flash and look like a deer caught in the head-lights. She askes ” What 2 grapes make up the Cabernet Sauvignon?” This is a very basic question that I should have not even hesitated to answer; but I’m old and the gerbils in my head were taking a nap. So I stammered Sauvignon Blanc….and aawww……(c’mon gerbils get the wheels spinning!) I finally said “Cabernet Franc”. I could tell she was unimpressed but politely smiled. At least she didn’t ask anymore questions!
The 3rd winery was St.Supery. They are known for Sauvignon Blanc. They have 2 tasting rooms. The one upstairs is really nice with couches, art gallery and you can look into the tank room. However,* I did not care for any of their wines.*(I have since changed my mind on the some of the S.B.’s I think I over exposed my palate to too much acidity). But I did think that even the Merlot had that tart bite that most S.B.’s have.
The last one was Peju. We got there around 4:30 and now I know why most of the wineries close between 4 & 5. Peju closes @ 6 and all the drunks come “pouring in”. It is beautiful at night and I really loved their Cabernet Sauvignon; but it was hard to hear what our wine consultant was saying because at the tasting bar next to us (Peju has several)people were barking like dogs & twice we heard breaking glass!
This ends the Napa part of the vacation and I really thought we would go back but food poisoning was in my future…but that’s “Part Two” of this “vacation”.