Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

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AndyK
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Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#1 Post by AndyK » July 8th, 2019, 11:57 am

I'm sure there must be plenty of threads, but I haven't really found what I'm looking for, so please excuse me asking again...

I'm planning a tasting trip to Napa with my parents, who are visiting from Europe at the beginning of August. I'm looking for suggestions on wineries that make classic, old school (or "old world") wine and do tastings for a reasonable price. I'm willing to spend $200-300 a bottle, as long as the tasting is not more than around $50 per person or gets waived with a purchase. We don't care about views tours, caves, views (although this one is a plus ;)), etc.

I don't drink a lot of Napa Cabs, but I do enjoy wines like Togni, Dunn, Forman, and Mondavi Reserve with some age on them. I also liked Larkmead and was a member for a while until they went crazy with pricing. I also love and buy Arnot-Roberts Cabs and Monte Bello, but other than that I don't really buy much CA Cabs...

As far as I know, none of the above really do tastings (Larkmead does, but I no longer support them) or are not in Napa Valley...

Any suggestions where I may want to go?

PS: My dad drinks a lot of Bordeaux, it’s his main region of interest, but has limited experience with Napa
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#2 Post by Anton D » July 8th, 2019, 12:36 pm

I'm not sure if you have to be a member, but Peter Michael springs to mind.

Diamond Creek may be pleasing.

Davis winery makes some lovely cab/cab franc, etc wines, not very Bordeauxy, though. Lovely place and they will treat you well.

Pine Ridge offers a classic California style red tasting.

If you could combine mending Wall and William and Mary, that would be a win!

Dunn may offer a visit, and La Jota is an often overlooked prize!

The upper and tasting at Mondavi has some very stylish offerings.

I don't know how mailing list wineries handle visits. I would off to 'pre-buy' a MacDonald or Piper wine and go there to taste and show your dad.

Thinking of minimizing drive times...

Combining Mondavi with MacDonald and maybe even Nickel and Nickel would make a good walking tour, almost.

Silverado Trail going down from Davis, you could hit Duckhorn, Pine Ridge, Clos Du Val, Stag's Leap and maybe Schrader and Shafer and Silverado winery.
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#3 Post by Pat Esposito » July 8th, 2019, 12:54 pm

We had a nice taste at Beaulieu Vineyards last year, if you get the right host and discuss your fondness for older wines they may have something open you could try. We were there the day they had a '75 GdL open and it was excellent. Mondavi Reserve room is excellent also.

Most places are opening current vintages or close to current vintages, unless you're willing to buy an older bottle from their library collections.

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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#4 Post by Mar3 Koslowsky » July 8th, 2019, 12:57 pm

Some great suggestions from Anton....adding a few more-

Corison- leaner/old world style and in your price point
Forman- nice setting and they are also open for tastings

Will try to think of some others but agree on Dunn, Diamond Creek.

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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#5 Post by MBerto » July 8th, 2019, 1:44 pm

Smith-Madrone, up Spring Mountain Road. Classic napa, old school, will probably taste with one of the Smith brothers, and great views.
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#6 Post by Karl K » July 8th, 2019, 1:45 pm

Smith-Madrone
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#7 Post by John Morris » July 8th, 2019, 2:01 pm

I haven't visited, but Mount Veeder Winery seems to be making more traditional, restrained wines.
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#8 Post by Sherri S h a p i r o » July 8th, 2019, 3:03 pm

MBerto wrote:
July 8th, 2019, 1:44 pm
Smith-Madrone, up Spring Mountain Road. Classic napa, old school, will probably taste with one of the Smith brothers, and great views.
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#9 Post by Steve Crawford » July 8th, 2019, 3:08 pm

id shoot for the moon and try to get into Dominus.

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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#10 Post by Marc Hauser » July 8th, 2019, 3:31 pm

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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#11 Post by Shay_A » July 8th, 2019, 3:58 pm

I’d put Seavey towards the top of that list. Views, wines and people are top notch. Definitely made in a more old school/restrained style for Napa Cabernet, and when we were there in February, we were able to taste some late ‘90s Cabernets and early ‘00s merlots. Julio is a great host.
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#12 Post by Howard Cooper » July 8th, 2019, 5:19 pm

Stony Hill
Heitz
Chateau Montelena
Forman
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#13 Post by Nick F. » July 8th, 2019, 5:20 pm

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i a s c o n e

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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#14 Post by Chris H. » July 8th, 2019, 5:30 pm

Not sure if Heitz still offers the free tasting, but a few years ago we did the tasting, and they poured a nice selection of the Napa Cab, Trailside Vineyard, Martha's Vineyard, along with their Zin, and a few others. Not very personal, but it was zero cost, and pretty fun to taste the Trailside and Martha's side by side.
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#15 Post by AndyK » July 8th, 2019, 6:33 pm

Thanks so much for all the suggestions so far! This is great :)

A couple of comments:
- I have a lot of experience with Clos du Val and Pine Ridge (due to a family member having memberships) and neither have ever really wowed me, maybe except for the 2013 Fortis, which was very good.
- Heitz is no longer free and the quality is going downhill IMHO.
- We've been to Corison a couple of years ago and totally forgot about it, thanks for reminding me, great suggestion!
- I'm not really interested in Duckhorn or Stag's Leap, but Shafer may be interesting, I've never been but heard good things about their tasting.

I'll try to contact Forman, Dunn, and Diamond Creek as well and see what can be done...
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Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

#16 Post by OwenB » July 8th, 2019, 6:55 pm

+1 for Diamond Creek
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #17 Post by Dav1d S@wyer » July 8th, 2019, 7:07 pm

    Howard Cooper wrote:
    July 8th, 2019, 5:19 pm
    Stony Hill
    Heitz
    Chateau Montelena
    Forman
    I'll second these four. It also wouldn't hurt to take him up to Domaine Carneros, Taittinger's sparkling operation. Incredible views and decent, relatively restrained wines.

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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #18 Post by Howard Cooper » July 8th, 2019, 7:18 pm

    Nick F. wrote:
    July 8th, 2019, 5:20 pm
    Freemark abbey
    Not at all old school anymore
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #19 Post by David Baum » July 8th, 2019, 11:16 pm

    Visited Diamond creek a few weeks ago. $95 a person, no discounts, no fees waived with purchase, no trade courtesy, no way, no one. Worth visiting once as it's such an iconic place but expect to pay well for it

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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #20 Post by David Baum » July 8th, 2019, 11:21 pm

    Tasted at Dunn in the fall. It's possible and was wonderful to see the place the wines I love so much come from. Randy is pretty much out of the picture and would have to get lucky for him to be around. Mike is often around and you may get some time with him. Such a great guy. Tasting will likely be with Ben, a guy they hired a couple years ago for these things. You'll be tasting current vintage Dunn (not ideal but it is what it is) and have access to buy most anything out of the library which is pretty deep. With that said it's more of a bucket list thing to check off these days then a great tasting experience IMHO

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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #21 Post by David Baum » July 8th, 2019, 11:27 pm

    I'd go to Spotteswood which is very old school sit down. Mondavi Reserve room is an easy one and nice to visit such an iconic place. Throw a private Montelena tasting in for another old school experience. For a great sit down experience I'd reach out to Will Segui to taste his wines. Got to taste some of the Rivers Marie wines also and just a great pleasant experience. Not old school but it will likely end up being your favorite

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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #22 Post by Jason T » July 9th, 2019, 12:39 am

    In addition to those mentioned, Mayacamas
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #23 Post by David Glasser » July 9th, 2019, 5:36 am

    AndyK wrote:
    July 8th, 2019, 6:33 pm
    Shafer may be interesting, I've never been but heard good things about their tasting.
    Shafer is not in any way old school by the definition in your OP. The setting is beautiful, the wines are excellent, and the tasting is very nice, though a bit "corporate."

    If you’re looking for Old World styled wines, I'd recommend Ridge Monte Bello and Montelena. But Ridge isn’t in Napa.

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    #24 Post by Howard Cooper » July 9th, 2019, 6:08 am

    Jason T wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 12:39 am
    In addition to those mentioned, Mayacamas
    I enjoyed visiting Mayacamas several years ago but did not recommend it because I don't know if things have changed since it has been sold. When was the last time you were there and has the experience changed since the ownership change?
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #25 Post by Howard Cooper » July 9th, 2019, 6:11 am

    David Glasser wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 5:36 am


    If you’re looking for Old World styled wines, I'd recommend Ridge Monte Bello and Montelena. But Ridge isn’t in Napa.
    The main Ridge winery is obviously south of SF, but if the OP wants to go to Ridge the Lytton Springs winery is only 1/2 hour or so away from St. Helena in Sonoma County. There are some really old Zin, Petite Sirah, etc., vines there that are neat to look at and the wines one can taste are the same or similar to what one can taste at Monte Bello mountain. Worth a side trip IMHO.
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #26 Post by Howard Cooper » July 9th, 2019, 6:14 am

    AndyK wrote:
    July 8th, 2019, 6:33 pm
    Thanks so much for all the suggestions so far! This is great :)

    A couple of comments:
    - I have a lot of experience with Clos du Val and Pine Ridge (due to a family member having memberships) and neither have ever really wowed me, maybe except for the 2013 Fortis, which was very good.
    - Heitz is no longer free and the quality is going downhill IMHO.
    - We've been to Corison a couple of years ago and totally forgot about it, thanks for reminding me, great suggestion!
    - I'm not really interested in Duckhorn or Stag's Leap, but Shafer may be interesting, I've never been but heard good things about their tasting.

    I'll try to contact Forman, Dunn, and Diamond Creek as well and see what can be done...
    You obviously have a lot of definitive opinions about what Napa Cabs you like and do not like. Pick your favorite wineries and try to get in there. The best winey visits in my experience have been at the wineries whose wines I like best. Nothing like seeing how and where your favorite wines get made.
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #27 Post by Jason T » July 9th, 2019, 6:58 am

    Howard Cooper wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 6:08 am
    Jason T wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 12:39 am
    In addition to those mentioned, Mayacamas
    I enjoyed visiting Mayacamas several years ago but did not recommend it because I don't know if things have changed since it has been sold. When was the last time you were there and has the experience changed since the ownership change?
    Fair point Howard, I have not been there since the ownership change.
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #28 Post by K John Joseph » July 9th, 2019, 7:17 am

    Mar3 Koslowsky wrote:
    July 8th, 2019, 12:57 pm
    Some great suggestions from Anton....adding a few more-

    Corison- leaner/old world style and in your price point
    Forman- nice setting and they are also open for tastings

    Will try to think of some others but agree on Dunn, Diamond Creek.
    Forman used to make classically styled wines, but diverged--massively--from that path a decade or more ago. They make modern massively oaked 15% abv cabs now and ride a long reputation of restraint that is, in my opinion, quite misplaced.

    Corison, however, fits the bill for a very classically styled Napa cab. A strong recommend. They also often have many great library offerings. I like to grab a bottle of something relatively mature after the tasting, then hit up D&D for some snacks and make one lazy evening of a patio, a bottle, and some great charcuterie.
    Last edited by K John Joseph on July 9th, 2019, 7:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #29 Post by Howard Cooper » July 9th, 2019, 7:25 am

    K John Joseph wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 7:17 am


    Corison, however, fits the bill for a very classically styled Napa cab. A strong recommend. They also often have many great library offerings. I like to grab a bottle of something relatively mature after the tasting, then hit up D&D for some snacks and make one lazy evening of a patio, a bottle, and some great charcuterie.
    I must admit that I don't really care for Corison Cabs. It clearly is a classically styled Napa Cab in a style that appeals to me. But, there is some flavor in the wine that somehow I find offputting - whether in younger wines or older wines. Very personal to me and I am not surprised others like the wine.
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #30 Post by K John Joseph » July 9th, 2019, 7:30 am

    Howard Cooper wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 7:25 am
    K John Joseph wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 7:17 am


    Corison, however, fits the bill for a very classically styled Napa cab. A strong recommend. They also often have many great library offerings. I like to grab a bottle of something relatively mature after the tasting, then hit up D&D for some snacks and make one lazy evening of a patio, a bottle, and some great charcuterie.
    I must admit that I don't really care for Corison Cabs. It clearly is a classically styled Napa Cab in a style that appeals to me. But, there is some flavor in the wine that somehow I find offputting - whether in younger wines or older wines. Very personal to me and I am not surprised others like the wine.
    I think some of her wines have an olive tapenade note that injects a savory element some find a bit off putting, especially when leaning into a Napa cab.
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #31 Post by Tom DeBiase » July 9th, 2019, 7:38 am

    Frogs Leap for classic style Napa Wines. Their 2016 Estate Cab is a good example, beautiful balanced flavors at 13.8% ABV. Huge bonus is the wines are sensibly priced.

    https://www.frogsleap.com/

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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #32 Post by MBerto » July 9th, 2019, 9:23 am

    I have nothing against the Montelena wines, they're still great, but our visit to the tasting room was not pleasant. "Will you be joining the wine club?", "How many futures would you like?", "Have you heard of the judgement of Paris?" - extremely sales-y, not at all designed to give us a sense of the wines. I think I even asked for another small repour of something, and there was a "um, are yuo going to join the wine club" - yes by all means I will be buying several hundred dollars of your wine for a half tablespoon pour of the Zin. There's a charge to taste, so I had no compunctions about leaving without buying anything.
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #33 Post by David Baum » July 9th, 2019, 9:56 am

    Yes that's the standard walk in at Montelena. Need to do private

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    #34 Post by Yao C » July 9th, 2019, 1:25 pm

    I enjoyed our visit to Quixote and their entertainingly Dali-esque winery, but if you don't like petite syrah it might not be for you
    David Baum wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 9:56 am
    Yes that's the standard walk in at Montelena. Need to do private
    I'll second that; Winfred and I loved our (semi)private visit there - we shared a table with two other couples and had plenty of time to taste through their lineup. It is a little bit spendy if you buy older bottles from their library though
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    #35 Post by BobMilton » July 9th, 2019, 1:35 pm

    I've always thought Merrill's cabs were restrained. And a tasting at EMH is a unique experience. So you might get in touch with her.

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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #36 Post by Howard Cooper » July 9th, 2019, 2:01 pm

    David Baum wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 9:56 am
    Yes that's the standard walk in at Montelena. Need to do private
    I have never done the standard walk in at Montelena. Would rather do a nicer tasting there. Guess you get what you pay for.
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #37 Post by Brandon Y. » July 9th, 2019, 2:12 pm

    Definitely agree with Seavey and Corison. Would probably add Cain to that list as well.
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #38 Post by David Glasser » July 9th, 2019, 3:12 pm

    Howard Cooper wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 2:01 pm
    David Baum wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 9:56 am
    Yes that's the standard walk in at Montelena. Need to do private
    I have never done the standard walk in at Montelena. Would rather do a nicer tasting there. Guess you get what you pay for.
    Same thoughts here. A private tasting after a picnic on the lake with a nice bottle makes for a very relaxing and enjoyable afternoon.

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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #39 Post by J O S H L O N G » July 9th, 2019, 3:30 pm

    Viader (awesome views too)
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #40 Post by AndyK » July 9th, 2019, 6:26 pm

    Howard Cooper wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 6:14 am
    You obviously have a lot of definitive opinions about what Napa Cabs you like and do not like. Pick your favorite wineries and try to get in there. The best winey visits in my experience have been at the wineries whose wines I like best. Nothing like seeing how and where your favorite wines get made.
    I do know what I like and maybe I should have mentioned that I have family in Napa and we visit about once a month, so I'm quite familiar with the region... However, I haven't really bought much of Napa wines and although we have done a lot of tastings, they were mostly at places where I get free access through memberships (Joseph Phelps, Larkmead, Clos du Val, Pine Ridge, Domaine Carneros). Most of them make quite good wine, but not exactly the style I was looking for. The little wine I do buy for myself is more along the lines of Dunn, Togni, and Forman, as mentioned. Just wanted to see what else people are recommending that's similar.
    Another thing that kept me from reaching out to schedule visits is that all three of them make 2 wines that I'm aware of. Not a huge problem, but our time is limited to a single day, so trying to get the most out of it. I'll take your advice, though, and reach out to Stony Hill and Montelena :)

    Yao C wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 1:25 pm
    I enjoyed our visit to Quixote and their entertainingly Dali-esque winery, but if you don't like petite syrah it might not be for you
    David Baum wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 9:56 am
    Yes that's the standard walk in at Montelena. Need to do private
    I'll second that; Winfred and I loved our (semi)private visit there - we shared a table with two other couples and had plenty of time to taste through their lineup. It is a little bit spendy if you buy older bottles from their library though
    Thanks, Yao! We'll make sure to ask for a semi-private tasting then!
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #41 Post by Albert R » July 9th, 2019, 6:29 pm

    BobMilton wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 1:35 pm
    I've always thought Merrill's cabs were restrained. And a tasting at EMH is a unique experience. So you might get in touch with her.
    Agree, we love Merrill's Black Cats! They strike a really good balance between old and new. [cheers.gif]
    Cheers,

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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #42 Post by AndyK » July 9th, 2019, 6:31 pm

    Thank you all for the input so far, lots of great stuff!!!
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    Adam Henkel
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #43 Post by Adam Henkel » July 9th, 2019, 10:40 pm

    itb

    Rich Salsano
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #44 Post by Rich Salsano » July 10th, 2019, 3:08 am

    These were all mostly mentioned already but:

    Stony Hill - although I would argue they are possibly more known for their white wines than cab
    Smith Madrone
    Matthiasson - Steve’s wines are phenomenal and his cab and merlot and Bordeaux style “red” are all what I would consider old school

    There may be a few others but these come to mind immediately.
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    Howard Cooper
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #45 Post by Howard Cooper » July 10th, 2019, 3:36 am

    AndyK wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 6:26 pm
    Howard Cooper wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 6:14 am
    You obviously have a lot of definitive opinions about what Napa Cabs you like and do not like. Pick your favorite wineries and try to get in there. The best winey visits in my experience have been at the wineries whose wines I like best. Nothing like seeing how and where your favorite wines get made.
    I do know what I like and maybe I should have mentioned that I have family in Napa and we visit about once a month, so I'm quite familiar with the region... However, I haven't really bought much of Napa wines and although we have done a lot of tastings, they were mostly at places where I get free access through memberships (Joseph Phelps, Larkmead, Clos du Val, Pine Ridge, Domaine Carneros). Most of them make quite good wine, but not exactly the style I was looking for. The little wine I do buy for myself is more along the lines of Dunn, Togni, and Forman, as mentioned. Just wanted to see what else people are recommending that's similar.
    Another thing that kept me from reaching out to schedule visits is that all three of them make 2 wines that I'm aware of. Not a huge problem, but our time is limited to a single day, so trying to get the most out of it. I'll take your advice, though, and reach out to Stony Hill and Montelena :)

    Yao C wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 1:25 pm
    I enjoyed our visit to Quixote and their entertainingly Dali-esque winery, but if you don't like petite syrah it might not be for you
    David Baum wrote:
    July 9th, 2019, 9:56 am
    Yes that's the standard walk in at Montelena. Need to do private
    I'll second that; Winfred and I loved our (semi)private visit there - we shared a table with two other couples and had plenty of time to taste through their lineup. It is a little bit spendy if you buy older bottles from their library though
    Thanks, Yao! We'll make sure to ask for a semi-private tasting then!
    I have done the Library tasting there and enjoyed it very much. Note that Montelena also has a place at a hotel in SF where they do tastings, so you can taste their wines in SF as well.
    Howard

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    Howard Cooper
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #46 Post by Howard Cooper » July 10th, 2019, 3:38 am

    Rich Salsano wrote:
    July 10th, 2019, 3:08 am

    Matthiasson - Steve’s wines are phenomenal and his cab and merlot and Bordeaux style “red” are all what I would consider old school

    I have only had whites from them. Where are they located and do they take visitors?
    Howard

    "That's what I do. I drink and I know things." Tyrion Lannister

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    Marc Hauser
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #47 Post by Marc Hauser » July 10th, 2019, 7:32 am

    Howard Cooper wrote:
    July 10th, 2019, 3:38 am
    Rich Salsano wrote:
    July 10th, 2019, 3:08 am

    Matthiasson - Steve’s wines are phenomenal and his cab and merlot and Bordeaux style “red” are all what I would consider old school

    I have only had whites from them. Where are they located and do they take visitors?
    They’re in Napa on the NE end and they do now take visitors.
    ITB-ish (unfrozen caveman cannabis lawyer and erstwhile wine lawyer)

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    AndyK
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #48 Post by AndyK » July 10th, 2019, 8:21 am

    Matthiasson is another great suggestion! I attended their member pickup party once as a +1 and was impressed by the wines and the vineyards. Thanks for reminding me, it was a great visit!
    k0berl

    Rich Salsano
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #49 Post by Rich Salsano » July 10th, 2019, 9:08 am

    AndyK wrote:
    July 10th, 2019, 8:21 am
    Matthiasson is another great suggestion! I attended their member pickup party once as a +1 and was impressed by the wines and the vineyards. Thanks for reminding me, it was a great visit!
    You’re welcome! I am a wine club member there and love the variety of wines. Their style is right in my wheelhouse.
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    Howard Cooper
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    Re: Old School Napa Valley Tasting Suggestions

    #50 Post by Howard Cooper » July 10th, 2019, 1:11 pm

    Marc Hauser wrote:
    July 10th, 2019, 7:32 am
    Howard Cooper wrote:
    July 10th, 2019, 3:38 am
    Rich Salsano wrote:
    July 10th, 2019, 3:08 am

    Matthiasson - Steve’s wines are phenomenal and his cab and merlot and Bordeaux style “red” are all what I would consider old school

    I have only had whites from them. Where are they located and do they take visitors?


    They’re in Napa on the NE end and they do now take visitors.
    Thanks. I would be interested in visiting them on my next visit.
    Howard

    "That's what I do. I drink and I know things." Tyrion Lannister

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