Wine Talk

Snooth User: napagirl68

Impromptu Napa trip... Where to taste?

Posted by napagirl68, Jun 13, 2013.

So I am going to Napa tomorrow for a few days.  I have some prearranged plans that cannot be changed, but have some limited  time for tasting.

As "napagirl", I should already know exactly where to go.  The problem is, I get stuck into that rut of going to the ones I like, the old faves, over and over.  I would love to hear your recommendations and why...   I would prefer Sonoma, but time dictates Napa.  Anywhere from St. Helena down is fair game...  Tell me your faves....

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Replies

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Reply by outthere, Jun 14, 2013.

Corison, a couple doors south of Press/Dean and Deluca in St Helena. If you are really lucky my friend Hardy will be working. But since it's the weekend I doubt it.

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 14, 2013.

I was totally stumped on this, Napa is more off my radar that it's ever been.

That said, I definitely thought of Corison. OT and I had a great visit last time we were there, but got lucky to run into Hardy, who now has his own label - Dirty & Rowdy, that's incidentally getting all this good press lately.

NG - Think I'm finally going to try a Robert Sinskey product, the pink one ; )

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Reply by EMark, Jun 14, 2013.

Unfortunately, a bit north of your St. Helena upper bound (a tad NE of Calistoga), NG, but a winery that I like that does not seem to get a lot of love is Vincent Arroyo.  They do have multiple wines, but their raison d'etre is Petite Sirah.

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Reply by outthere, Jun 14, 2013.

Corison is Hardy's day job JD. Mon-Fri, Hospitality Mgr.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jun 15, 2013.

Thanks for all the suggestions!!   I will hit Corison tomorrow for sure.  Had a bit of traffic, was delayed a bit.  Made it to ACME fine wines, and got my lot of Petite Abeille..  And a few others that look extremely promising.   Stopped at Clos Pegase as well.  A bit disappointed that the tasting room "does not open" a large number of currently released wines.  They used to, but no more.  Walked away with a $20 tasting fee and one bottle of untasted wine.  Uggh.  too bad, I used to really like this place.

Arger-Martucci was another old fav I revisited.  Good visit!  Decent wine, great service, and better yet, sale on case of 2004 Cab Franc for $216.  Not my all time fav cab franc, but DAMN it's decent. And you cannot beat that price!  Thinking of getting case #2 tomorrow.  They don't do Viognier or Pinot anymore, so that was a slight disappointment.

Still trying to decide what to do (besides Corison) tomorrow before my event at 5:30.....    My phone not cooperating with snooth, so I am on the hotel computer now.  Will try to post more tomorrow.  Thinking of something up in the hills...

Emark... I was at Vincent Arroyo many moons ago, when the had the black lab that would hop/run up the stacked barrels.  He is gone now...   I haven't been in awhile.  It used to be free tastings.. prolly still is.

Thanks for all your input!

 

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 15, 2013.

Maybe a little late but how about Anderson's Conn an/ or Behrens family?

Turnbull is super convenient and seemingly in a good groove right now.

Oh, and consider Seavey too. Cheers.

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Reply by outthere, Jun 15, 2013.

There's always Alpha Omega about 4 blocks south of Corison across the hwy.

 

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Reply by Gwalkerlawyer, Jun 15, 2013.

For cabs and zin, jessup cellars and brown estates.

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Reply by EMark, Jun 16, 2013.

Thanks for the update, NG.  Too bad about your downer experience at Clos Pegase, but on the other hand, it sounds like you had a great score on that Cabernet Franc.  I pointed my nephew and his sweetheart to VA last February and they did mention that the lab (whose name I just cannot remember) had passed.  They then went over to Keenan and played with the yellow lab, there.  They did bring back a bottle of the VA Rattlesnake Acres PS for me.

We very much look forward to your next report.

 

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Reply by outthere, Jun 16, 2013.

ACME is a favorite stop of mine. I call on the body shop right next door to it every Wednesday. This week I picked up he RYME Vermentino I posted about earlier as well as a bargain Cab called Experience.

They have some real nice wines there that I need to pickup in the next few weeks. Such as the Matthew Taylor Pinot and Chard. Erin is great.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jun 16, 2013.

Hi everyone!

Yes, OT, ACME is GREAT!   One of my best stops of the trip!  In addition to my Petite Abeille, I picked up a 2011 Hirsch Vineyards The Bohan-Dillon Sonoma coast Pinot noir and 2012 Azur Rose (from Fairplay of all places!!).  I don't remember the woman's name who assisted me (I am terrible with names), but she was very helpful and informative.  She was telling me about a grower in Fairplay that was focusing on balance and restraint.  I should write things down because I don't remember the name or details... It's what happens after you hit the big 4-0.

So I struggled with what to do Saturday- several of the places JD mentioned really looked TERRIFIC, but the $75-plus tasting fees turned me off.  I don't normally spend much time in Napa now that I am so into Pinots.  I used to love Cabs the best, and this was my area. But now....   And the marketing... jeez!  I mean, I KNOW napa is expensive.  But it really seems like they are all now trying to market an "experience" vs. just doing some tastings.  Many of these tastings involve tours, and educating people on how the wine is made, etc, etc.   Basically, it seems like they are marketing to people from out of state, and out of country.  That was confirmed to me by several locals I talked with.  Not really what I was looking for.

Dmcker used to tell me that I needed to change my name to SonomaGirl!  LOL!   So true..

So what did I do Sat? We first spent the morning at the Napa Farmers Market in Oxbow, but couldn't go too far away afterward cause I had an event at 5:30pm.   When in doubt, head toward Sonoma!  We were staying in Napa proper, so we headed down toward the Carneros area of Sonoma figuring that we would just stop where it looked interesting since time was scarce.  We ended up at CornerStone Gardens, not far from Gloria Ferrer.  Here's the link for Cornerstone:

http://www.cornerstonegardens.com/

I had visited here about 8yrs ago, but didn't remember that until we wandered a bit.  There are great kitchen gardens, and pretty cool sculpture gardens.  Also a few great shops, a restaurant, and two tasting rooms.   Perfect.   First stop, Meadowcroft Winery tasting room.  Yes, there's a tasting fee (reasonable-sorry don't remember the exact price) but refunded with purchase.  I really liked the 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.  It was different from my typical pinots in that there was just this burst of strawberries on the nose vs. cherry.  A very light pinot, but completely enjoyable.  I was able to purchase a glass, and roam the shops/garden.  THIS was the experience I was looking for.  Tasting room gal friendly and laid back, and what a cool shop I found, Artefact Design and Salvage just blew me away.  I am lucky my husband reigned me in, I swear I could've spent a fortune here.  There was a cool iron gate from Spain, circa 1600, and tons of stuff from William Randolph Hearst's warehouses in SF, that were here on consignment.  I had a wonderful visit with one of the ladies working here while sipping my wine.  Seems that Hearst was a hoarder, and he basically sourced everything he could get his hands on out of Europe.  The most interesting stuff was not really displayed obviously, so you had to dig  through a bit, which was kinda cool.  Also stuff from old, historic state govt buildings here as well. 

After that, I wanted to taste the other tasting room- Keating Wines.  But we needed food.  There is a restaurant here called Park 121.  We decided to lunch here.  I had a skirt steak with grilled romaine and "salsa verde", which was more like a gremolata.  It was FANTASTIC.  The Israeli couscous was topped with the most amazing citrus vinaigrette, which I thought may have been tangerine based?  But I was told it was orange, lemon AND lime.  YUM.  And they were kind enough to share the ingredients of the salsa verde, which was phenomenal.   My husband had a burger that was really good, but not as impressed as I was.  Loved the wine list!  I had a Robert stemmler Vin Gris (2012 sonoma coast rose of pinot) and my husband had the 2010 Robledo Merlot, which he LOVED.  We were then planning on taking off to Robledo to taste/buy, and when I looked up the wine on my phone, I found that Park 121's price was only $5 over retail!  Since we were limited on time, we bought a bottle of the Robledo and one of the Stemmler rose from the restaurant.  

We then tasted at Keating's tasting room.  The cabs were great, but the 2010 Rockpile Malbec stole my heart.  We ended up taking that one to our event that evening.  And it seems that Keating makes their wine at Clay Mauritson's winery... small world!

That was about it for us.. we didn't go to Robledo, we went back to the room to rest/dress for our event.  I think the impromptu stop at cornerstone was a great thing... maybe not for everyone.  I wasn't looking for the BIG winery estates or pomp and circumstance.  Give me a garden, a glass of pinot, and maybe a few sheep/cows/rabbits on a farm thrown into the mix, and I am HAPPY GIRL!   Maybe I should really change my name to Sonoma Girl!  

 

 

 

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Reply by outthere, Jun 16, 2013.

Was Eric working the tasting room at Keating? Great guy, great wines, very under the radar despite his great location. I have his 2008 Rokpile Petite Sirah,  Monticello Cab and BGIII Cab in my cellar. Maybe it's time to open one. 

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Reply by napagirl68, Jun 16, 2013.

OT- no, I don't think so.  There was a younger woman working in there.  She was very nice, but I did have to ask lots of questions to pull info out....

Have you tasted the Rockpile Malbec?

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 18, 2013.

I gave away my Rockpile Malbec so I could get more of something else from my partner, if I recall.

Which hills?  On Spring Mtn, I would love to hit Smith Madrone or Keenan.  On the other side, Chappellet.  If you want to go back towards Napa and not go into the hills, go to Bell!  In Yountville but a little south of town proper, on Washington which parallels the Hwy.

Next time I go up to Napa, I'm pulling a string or two and getting the VIP tasting at Chappellet.

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 18, 2013.

That's a good list Fox...the lesser known gems are the way I'dvtry to go in Napa right now, along with some slightly under appreciated stalwarts.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 18, 2013.

I heard recently that Chappellet has been resisting making Pritchard Hill an AVA because they want to be able to trademark their flagship wine.  I see To-Kalon-like litigation resulting.  While I understand the business reason for it, I think it harms them from a PR point of view.  What they could do is earn the right to call themselves Pritchard Hill's first or original winery.  Which might be the real goal.  In any case, they have shown that PH is a good location, although clearly on the other side of the valley from the more-established mountain zones. 

 

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 18, 2013.

Marketing/PR doesn't seem to be Chappellet's strong suit, but that's a big part of the reason their wines offer value - they just aren't very fashionable or buzz worthy.

I agree they'd be best served as having the flagship Pritchard Hill wine, but maybe they fear Continuum and other peers in some way.

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Reply by EMark, Jun 18, 2013.

Could the kerfluffle over whether or not to get Pritchard Hill designated an AVA actually be a PR ploy?  One of my long-held beliefs is that there is no such thing as bad publicity, and in this case I don't see how Chappellet can lose out.  Actually, I can see a scenario in which their best case is for them to lose on the AVA thing.  Then, they could be perceived as the original pioneer who gets "wronged" by the recent interlopers.

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Reply by Manny Schrager, Jun 18, 2013.

Some of my favorites stops are Regusci (love their Cab) and Darioush (beautiful place - wines a bit on the $$$ side) on the Silverado Trail.

Hill Family in the middle of Yountville.  Great folks and a very wide mid-range assortment.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jun 19, 2013.

As far as "in the hills", I meant anywhere off of 29.  Howell, Spring, Diamond... anything was up for grabs.There ARE some really great wineries, especially up in Howell Mtn.  I missed the Taste of Howell Mtn on Sat at Charles Krug  (found out about it a bit too late)- DAMN, DAMN!!  Tickets were ~$135, but worth it for the amount of tastings/food. 

 I was really eyeing JD's suggestions of Anderson's Conn Valley and Seavey.. but appointments only, and large fees for tasting, often waived only with double each person's fee in wine.  Gone are the days, for the most part, of calling ahead for an appt- reservations must be booked in advanced, either online or by phone.. I guess that is what the improving economy has done.  When I was last in Napa for extensive tasting, it was back ~3.5yrs ago and prices had dropped, same day appts gladly accommodated. 

I totally understand the smaller wineries needing advanced notice- I just don't like the vibe- the marketing of an experience.  I want to taste, hear a bit about the wine, perhaps a short stroll around the property, then buy and leave.   A lot of what I saw offered was not even tours, but "seminars".   Hmmm...this highly commercialized, sales-pushing  reminds me of those timeshare seminars (scams)!

I have visited Bell... it was back in ~2007, and although decent, I wasn't overly impressed. 

Manny- several folks recommended Reguschi... we thought about stopping in, especially since the winery is rumored as a "ghost" winery- a fun twist perhaps.   I even called, and they said we could come without filling out the required forms (where is the puking emoticon here???)  But I was turned off by this on their website:

"Tastings are $25 per person, redeemable against each $100 per person purchase"

This was before I began to encounter this pretty much everywhere in Napa.  I completely understand charging, and even requiring a level of purchase, but 4:1 is a bit high for me... especially when I can taste in Sonoma for almost free, and spend even MORE on top of the line Pinot...

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