Day 2 -- Napa/Carneros

Four stops today… wanted to spend as much time outside as possible!

  1. Hyde de Villaine (HdV) – I love these kinds of experiences – a small (almost hole-in-the-wall) winery with three employees onsite, a tasting room off the tank and barrel room, and an attention-seeking dog that stole the show… well, almost. AJ and Stephane spent over an hour with us explaining the wines, the techniques, and their war stories from 2010. The wines are squarely my style – elegant, restrained, minerally, and completely clean and clear. The Old Vine Chardonnay was amazing, with rich mouthfeel and among the best integrated subtle oak influence I have tasted. The 2006 syrah was dark-purple silk in a glass. Amazing.

  2. Clos du Val – Never tried their wines before, but I kinda admire their clear voice: “we are old-school and proud.” The wines represent exactly what they say – they are very restrained, with a lot of herbal flavors and aromas. I can see why they have fans – the style is pronounced and the wines were all well-made and clean, but for me, they are simply too herbal and lack the fruit I prefer. I don’t think they deserve the trashing from Laube, but they are not my style.

  3. Chateau Squeeze Inn – Okay, the wines stink, but if you want to get away from Napa Valley Wine Country preciousness for a bit, there is nothing like a cheese-covered Squeezeburger and a Dr. Pepper… talk about a palate cleanser! neener

  4. Heitz Cellar – We had some time between appointments, so I finally visited Heitz (after having driven by many times). Small, unassuming, and free, and they have some great Old-CA cabs. I am sure there are detractors here, but I really enjoyed a taste of 2002 Martha’s Vineyard (did I mention that the taste was free!) and left with a 2001 Martha’s. Pleasant and enjoyable.

  5. Girard – I have been an unapologetic fan of theirs since 2004, and today did not disappoint. Mark spent 90 minutes with us and brought out all of their single-vineyard Cabs as well as their regular offerings. Yes, there are wines of greater pedigree out there, but I will state that their $60 (with discount) Diamond Mountain Cab is an amazing wine and a great deal. I also enjoyed their Mixed Blacks field blend as a berry-filled wine that begs for a mixed grill.

Tomorrow – A. Rafanelli (I am convinced that this is the hardest appointment to get in Sonoma) and MacRostie all followed by dinner with friends at Spoonbar. Cheers!


heitz is one of the last free walk in’s in the valley

glad you enjoyed

Indeed… I think that decision is worth supporting!

I’m a big fan of Girard also. The mixed blacks wine was awesome. Jessup is also another great walk in tasting room, right across the street from Girard. The nice thing about Girard is that you can also buy a glass of wine and enjoy it outside.


I too am a fan of HdV and what they’ve achieved. It’s interesting that they are now trying to make a bigger splash overseas with their ties to ‘dV’ . . . we’ll see what happens.

This is where Tyler Thomas, current winemaker at Donelan (aka Pax) got his start, and IIRC, Benjamin Myers, a lab mate of mine at UC Davis, is currently in the same position . . .

And thanks for the notes on the others - it’s refreshing to see some of these every now and then instead of just the ‘faves’ out there.