Sorry decided to find some support pics for fun.
Long day of travel
Half Moon Bay Ritz
Evening golf with the wives
Settled in, well rested, and ready for the wine trip.
Arrive in Napa
Bouchon - Based on our tasting times it made sense to brunch rather than late lunch and wanted to make up for the fact that we couldn’t snag a French Laundry reservation for 6 Went with my go to crouque madame, but it was unanimous the sole was the winner, who knew. Had a nice rose but forgot to note and a few appetizers we were well pleased, but anxious to get to the wine.
David Arthur - first tasting of the weekend started off perfect and as my ideal tasting dictates we had a number of whites and reds to taste through at the beautiful pritchard hill property. Starting with a great crisp stone fruit SB and moved to the Chard which was unique and satisfying. Very vibrant and unfiltered with layered complexity matched with good acidity and texture in which I typcially find lacking, maybe this is a non chardonnay drinkers chardonnay . Our tasting was out in the vineyard under a beatiful live oak tree where we ventured through there flagship cabs with Jeffrey who was an excellent and genuine host.
All wines were great and vibrant, but the Elevation 1147 was fantastic with the Old Vines a close second, having a touch more salinity than I prefer, but was equal in calliber. Both had nice dark fruit and bright acidity and surprisingly all flagships tasted were 2018 with nice touch of age and great individual expression. We went back to the barrel room for a surprise treat of a barrel sampled Nebbiolo that had a fantastic nose and great red fruit, excited for this offering next spring wjen it takes shape. What a memorable experience as we had so many highlights in our 2 hour tasting. We enjoyed the property completely to ourselves in 3 different venue types from tasting room to vineyard to barrel room. Will continue to support and visit this wonderful estate who doesn’t hold back.
Vineyardist - Next tasting was in Calistoga on top of the mountain. What a unique and unforgettbale tasting experience with Julie. 2 large engraved gates meet you as you make your way to the secluded hillside destination. Julie met us with welcoming enthusiasm and wasted no time touring the large property and eventually to the top of the property. From thay vantage she pointed out the various identifiable vineyard sites (lerner, jasud to name a few) as well as the AVAs you can see from the top as we enjoyed their fantastic sauvignion blanc, one of my personal favorites with a pleasant peach note on the front and mellowed acidity that carries the wine through the pallet. We made our way back to the tasting room which is second to none. Seated across an open air walkway of their barrel room met with a beautiful round table. The accordion doors were pushed wide open on the beautiful sunny day enjoying panoramic views of the property. Absolutely perfect. We were served Calarcadia, LSR, and the Notre-Mystere. The LSR was overlooked as I moved between the Calarcadia and Notre cab franc. The CF was muted and dry to the finish but evolved nicely that prompted continously investigation and thought, ironically named. The Calarcadia peaked my interest, and was nothing short of magnificent. The nose did it for me, wonderful floral indistinguishable scent with perfect ripe dark fruit and gently balanced with a lingering finish. The 19 had a touch more of an edge on the side pallet, but the 21 had no detectible edge with even more perfume on the remarkable nose truly a benchmark of mountain wines. The Ridge a new wine, for me atleast, was later poured as a kicker. It wasn’t won on the nose as the Calarcadia, but once tasted was a perfect delicacy with darker fruit and a soft creme touch with a flawless pallet and integrated tannins. What a treat. Julie walked us through each wine, stories, and made us feel at home what a great experience. We left the winery with 21 Calarcadia and some Ridge, but wish I would have grabbed some cab franc as well. What an experience, couldn’t ask for more.
Check-in Alila Napa
We checked into our hotel with a home style property built adjacent to Beringer Vineyards. The property is centered in St Helena centrally located and would highly recommend. Our room came standard with a vineyard view and gas fire table that helped us enjoy some night caps and mesmorizing coffee scenery in the morning.
Dinner Charter Oak
We enjoyed a patio setting at charter oak. I was finished with wine for the day and took advantage of their extensive bar with a Manhattan, great choice. My wife and I kept to the casual menu and went with the pork chop and burger which were great just as you would expect and never miss with the smoked sourdough.
We’ve been purchasing from Spottswoode for a few vintages now but this is the first estate visit. Firmly affixed on the bottle but never understood, Spottswoode is certainly a Family Estate. We were met with a glass of Mary’s Block SB as we explored down the street across their old vines designated as “Spottswoode” clone. We geeked out at their organic, biodynamic, sustainable practices as we made our way to the family property down the block from the winery. A wonder of trees, fruits, and flowers with a personal touch as we explored the immaculate setting.
We met the family dog who was very inviting and walked through the paths of the beautiful gardens offering figs as we enjoyed our wine. We finished the tour back at the winery with the 2020 Estate Cab and Lyndenhurst. I was very surprised at the the second bottling as it was soft and approachable with plenty of interest that was unpronounced in previous experience would give this one comsideration. The estate bottling had the signature spottswoode flavors and aromas we’ve come to know, however seemed to be a touch less fullness in the pallet as the 17-19s I’ve been spoiled with. We were however not let down in the least as we were generously offered a 2014 offering. The wine was full and fresh with the wonders of good Oakville cabs and a terrific blackberry nose that is stylistically unmistakable, nothing beats a good Spottswoode. We were grateful to secure a few bottles for home. The warm welcoming environment made us get a feeling of place and family, a special experience we are happy to support.
We hopped down the street to lunch at Brasswood. Did the typical lunch experience with the mozzarella caprese appetizers thats a no miss. Soon after finishing our starter we were met with a surprise guest, the famous Roy Piper. I had asked Roy to meet us for a lunch tasting a few weeks prior, but knowing Roy was actively in harvest and in all honesty had better things to do, I did not have any expectations. Everything changed when Roy arrived. He came with all the charm offering us his 17 Roy Piper which we happily accepted as we then neglected our beers and lunch, the star of the show. Roy took the time to envelope us in his interesting background and character that brought him into the wine world and discussed underlying details that set his wine apart. I knew the extent of his dedication from his on the ground videos we all get to enjoy, but it his appraoch certainly makes an impression. And as he brought his story to life, the wine too continued to tinge with life. As the wine sat in the glass it changed and developed like a good bordeaux. Brighter fruit with nice acidity and a fantastic nose with black raspberry herbal tones and fine soft tannins. We all left lunch without a thought on the food and overwhelming support of Roy’s project. Very grateful he took the time to meet us and his detail and process certainly translates to the bottle. This was an experience to remember.
We went on to our afternoon tasting at Colgin, as I’d like to put it pulling behind the curtain. On the back side of Pritchard Hill once you approach the gate, the curtain is lifted. And behind a transcending view with the most triumphant grape rows one will find. The vines are kept to a standard unimaginable as you look down the perfect rows with perfectly pruned vines and beautoful hanging fruit. The feelings were however a touch eager as the vineyard sites elsewhere were being harvested and processed at the Estate. We were welcomed by Sara who walked us around the corner to the incredible signature lake views. We then gathered at the grape processing area where I felt like James Molesworth witnessing the perfection of a grape harvest of very serious magnitude.
Allison the Director of Winemaking was gracious enough to explain their extensive grape sorting process as we watched a very advanced sorter feed grapes to a hand picking final stage before grapes were gravity fed to an exacting height without overexposing seeds in an enamoring process of perfection that my acute knowledge can inly begin to appreciate. We then walked into the estate that was reminiscent of a Château. Anne’s prior experience seemed to resonate in her fine taste for ancient artifact, art, and culture that defined the building and decor. The star studded feeling inside is carried with memorabilia from various namesakes as Mike Schefsky basketballs and Zander Schauffele golf hats. The porch had a picturesque view we spent moments enjoying before being ushered for their intro video and background. We were seated at a grand mahogany table with vineyard views with samples of the 18 Cariad, IX Estate, and Tychson Hill. Wine was all predominantly fresh in the nose with sea air and full bodied but had a menthol freshness to the finish. The tannin was soft dusty feel and taste lingered. Great wine, but somewhat hard to get an exacting impression at an early stage, but the quality could not have been better. Anne was nice enough to stop in and welcome us to her Estate which was another very personal touch to a very classy estate visit. What a way to finish a wine trip.
The atmosphere is sophisticated, they have hanging glass lanterns outside and a grand open space for the dining area with interesting unique features such as a grand antique clock imported from New York. We went with the 4 course dining expereince and upgraded to the truffle taglietelle and curry lobster. Delicious. Went with a negroni and a hanabi autumn 23 lager which served as a nice pairing to the dinner.
A nice finishing touch with dinner and plenty to think about after a fun weelend in Napa. Until next year, appreciate all of our gracious hosts!