Rediscovering Napa

Fog settles over the north Napa Valley (photo: Teresa Newman)

As part of our continuing adventures we kicked off our winter Napa tasting activities with a delicious trio of wineries offering expressions of each district of the Valley: Oakville, Stags Leap and Rutherford.

Our initial industry tasting at B Cellars demonstrated an attention to detail for food pairing using farm to table ingredients. The hospitality lounge centers around a kitchen station where small plates are created using locally grown – including onsite raised poultry and vegetable ingredients – to fully release the expression of the Oakville based wine making. While many of the current releases are structured from fruit throughout the valley – the estate Cabernet Sauvignon yield is only used for blending currently – the super Tuscan and Bordeaux style blends (both white and red) are very significant value wines at their price point compared to other more established offerings in the district and nearby valley areas.

Our visit to Stags Leap brought us to the South African inspired architecture of Chimney Rock, the one time golf course property now owned and operated by the Terlato family (also of Sideways movie fame winery Sanford in the Santa Rita Hills AVA). With an expression of the local micro climates even within blocks of the district property. The single vineyard offerings illustrate the geological diversity of the property, and customers benefit from the many select offerings from ththe label.

We ended our day with what we call our “home winery” at Grgich Hills Estate and our VIP tasting of Napa Valley wines with a focus on Yountville and Rutherford districts.  Our hostess, friend and third generation family wine member Maja Jaramaz led us through another expressive flight of primarily distinctive reds with an emphasis on flavor, balance and age worthiness.

The following include our tasting notes, updates and links to cellar tracker will be incuded in the coming days.

B Cellars

14 Blend 23 – SW90

Big citrus fruit and green apples on the nose. White spices and smooth melon finish with moderate whipped butter traces. Value wine at 39/btl. Viognier, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. Paired with a split radish mix garden salad in the hospitality lounge.

15 Estate singe bottle. Sangiovese – SW91

Deep. Rich in color most like merlot nearly opaque visually. Dark inky fruits. Black pepper on the nose with cedar woods giving way to a full pepper expression, dark fruits and plums as well as bacon fat on the long lingering finish. This wine best represents Sangiovese in California hands down, perfect for Merlot and Cabernet lovers. Forms the basis for the future Blend 24 vintage.

13 Barrel Select Chardonnay – SW92

Cedar and lemon zest on the nose with a honeysuckle and white pepper with a smith light oak and butter meal finish. Classic Napa Chardonnay – no over rotation on the butter notes.

14 Blend 24 – SW93

Classic Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese base Merlot and Cabernet. White pepper smoke and thyme on the nose with a full bodied expression of this unique blend of dark fruits bark and grip on the palate without overbearing tannins. Serve with risotto or pork shoulder. Value wine at 59/btl. Drink 2018-24.

14 Kick Ranch – SW89

Light nose of caramel and rosemary with currant and dark cherry on the palate. A good Syrah not that can flex with pairings with assistance.

14 Oakville Cabernet – SW91

Full bodied Oakville Cabernet with hard candy sugars on the nose with sage, garlic traces and bold dark fruit on the palate. Pair with roast and game meats. 20-30 year cellar potential easily.

14 Blend 26 – SW92

A bold Meritage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot with tobacco and leather notes with cherry pie, black peppers and a cream finish with medium tannins. Compare to Opus One or Plumpjack offerings at a fraction of the price at 89/btl

Chimney Rock

13 Sauvignon Blanc – SW88

Full bodied varietal offering of Fresh melons and citrus on the nose and yellow flowers with cinnamon hints and vanilla on the palate. Very pleasant summer wine flexes with many light fare pairings.

2012 Elevage – SW90

Classic right bank Blend with 57% Merlot 35% Cabernet Sauvignon 8% Petite Verdot. Earth, leather and tobacco on the nose with red pepper, currant and dark fruits with hearty tannins on the palate. A fine steak and grill wine.

13 Stags Leap Cabernet – SW89

86% Cabernet 14% Merlot. Smoky black pepper nose with a chewy grippy finish a bit overpowering the fruit requiring hearty food and faire. Not a campfire wine, this is a serious pairing wine with meats and roasted vegetables.

13 Arrowhead Cabernet – SW90

Dark leather and black pepper and hints of sage on the nose with grippy tannins of chewy plum and dark fruits on the palate. Highly cellarable for 15-30 years.

12 Tomahawk Cabernet – SW90

Incredible mineralogy for a Cab varietal with sizzling pan fried steak overtones and dark fruits and chewy mild tannins very expressive of Stags Leap district. Excellent grill wine and flex with meal pairing.

Grgich Hills Estate

14 Miljenko Chardonnay Carneros – SW92

Lower production than previous vintages. Clean with minerality with melon, green apples and honeysuckle on the palate. Delicious afternoon drink.

12 Miljenkos Petite Syrah – SW92

Blueberry and mocha on the nose with grippy and chewy tannins with dark fruits and tobacco on the palate. Delicious long finish. amazing structure worthy of aging 20+ years

13 Rutherford Miljenko Cab – SW91

Bordeaux style Cab blend. See cellar tracker. Smoky nose with dark spices and medium tannins with long lingering finish. Delicious. Worthy of aging 20-40 years. 400-500 cases made.

03 Napa Valley Cabernet – SW91

Big nose of mocha and almonds with stark bing cherry tart and cream and medium tannins. Really exposes the ageability of this makers varietal.

13 Late Harvest Violeta – SW90

Delicious late harvest blend of Sauvignon blanc, Riesling and Gurwirtztraminer wine with apricots and nectarines on the nose and vanilla cake on the palate. 15g residual sugar.


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