Saturday, May 9, 2009

CA, Part Three

Quite happy from some successful stops, my wino-friends and I stopped off at a couple other places as we drove south towards Napa:

1. Franciscan - okay wines, not blown away. Discouraged by the commercial feeling. Cool vestigate poplars. Okay back courtyard. Loved the Bremner wafers (blast from the past). Even better? Organic Whole Foods Nilla wafers - it was snacktime!

2. Grgich Hills - have heard great things about their chardonnays, but was really unimpressed with their wines. The dark and windowless tasting room didn't do much for me either. Hmmm.

3. Next up? Elizabeth Spencer wines in Rutherford. Fun, cute tasting room, good reds. I think I was tired by this point, and definitely didn't like the AC!

4. We then decided to bite the bullet - Opus One. These are amazing wines, complex, rich, and so delightful in the mouth (not on the pocketbook). We didn't think we'd get in without a reservation, but clearly we were just the people they were hoping to see, as they whisked us right in. We got our first pour - mind you, it was quite a generous one - and climbed the stairs to the top of the structure to look out over the vines and fields. With a gentle breeze coming up the valley to cool us off from the blazing 90 degree temps and sun, it was the perfect resting place for us. Couple of pictures, and another pour later, we had come back to earth (and for me, forgotten about all the work and cold I left behind in Manhattan). Wines, just as good as I remembered. The structure itself reminded me of a placial marble and stone palace. HUGE scale, and simple landscaping. Didn't do much for me, but a definite must-see in the Napa Valley.

5. Next up was going to be a trip to Silver Oak. We drive in, and there are all sorts of chauffered cars, convertibles, limos - even a stretch Excursion for a Bachelorette party crew of ladies. Hmm. This was already starting to feel a little "scene-y" for me. We got inside the main tasting room - definitely cool. I loved the dark tone woods. But the people! Luckily, Layla wasn't allowed on the premises, so we walked directly back to the car to re-examine our plan.

6. Just the remedy I needed - some snacks - and a trip to Paraduxx Winery. This time, Layla was MORE than welcome (and even made friends with other tasters there!) Same family as Duckhorn (a reliable go-to for me), I was so utterly delighted to step out of the car in what felt like a mix of home/a farmyard. Wonderful wildflowers, and tables scattered around back for a wine/food pairing tasting! All four of us sat down (Layla was psyched to have a chance to nibble, too!) for our flight of six wines and pairing snacks. I still remember the short ribs. Oh my... It was a perfect hour there, with the sun starting to do down. Ahh...

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