Too Much of a Good Thing?

11 May

The beautiful V. Sattui stone winery, set amid venerable 250 year-old oaks in the St. Helena appellation

I will admit that I’ve never understood the concept of the spit bucket when sampling wines that cost upwards of $100 per bottle.  I mean, for a modest fee one can enjoy, compare and contrast a half dozen outstanding wines (even more if a good rapport is established with the tasting room attendant).  And who would want to waste  94-point rated wine?!

After a wonderful overnight visit to Napa, I now not only understand the concept, but the absolute importance of making full use of these decorative ewers.  Yesterday, nineteen wines were sampled between our lunch at V. Sattui winery and dinner at Celadon in downtown Napa.  While my wife expressed disappointment that I was not able to drink a full 20 glasses (maybe this was sarcasm??), I spent a good many hours regretting the 19 generous pours from our winery attendants.

We started our day at V. Sattui, which has won “Winery of the Year” and/or “Best Winery”  in Napa 7 out of the past 10 years.  Pretty impressive, and one visit makes it clear why they continue to garner these accolades.  The beautiful setting, excellent wines and fresh gourmet snacks and meals (best eaten outdoors surrounded by lush bouganvillea, palms and roses) combine to make one’s visit an unforgettable experience.  My favorites of the 7 wines tasted there:  a Madeira that dates back over 100 years (I just had to buy a bottle) and a wonderfully complex and balanced 2009 Zinfandel.

Next stop on our tasting tour was Stag’s Leap – the very winery that put California on the wine map after winning the The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 (the Judgment of Paris) for reds.   The winery had recently run out of the 2009 Cab Sauv that was on the Reserve tasting menu, so the winemaker generously pulled some 2006 vintage bottles from the library.  Wow!  One of the best Cab’s I’ve had.

Finally, we stopped at Chimney Rock, a picturesque vineyard on Silverado Trail with a strong reputation for Cab’s.   They have some very nice blends (named Elevage) as well as award winning cab’s on the Winemaker’s Tasting Menu.  Their 2007 Signature Stag’s Leap District Cab was amazing, even better than others I’d recently tried from this acclaimed Napa vintage.

As a final note, many of Napa’s restaurant’s are as praiseworthy as the great local wines.  Throughout town, one will find farm-to-table produce and organic meats creatively prepared by top chefs.   All in all, Napa is one of our favorite weekend getaways in northern California, and for me will be even more enjoyable as I learn to sample multiple wines without the downsides of overindulgence, through the discreet use of the porcelain and stainless vases conveniently staged on the tasting bar!


One Response to “Too Much of a Good Thing?”

  1. Ross Bunker May 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    I liked the brief history lesson about Stags Leap, you should do more about wine history. I also really enjoyed the “Wolfenstein: The New Order” add at the end, although you have no control over that add, it looks awesome.

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