Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Domaine Carneros-Our Last Stop for This Winecation 2015 #domainecarneros #TaittingerUSA

As we were on our way to SFO, we made one last stop at the stunning, regal chateau between Sonoma and Napa, Domaine Carneros for some sparkling wine! It is a singular winery best known for the methode champenoise sparkling wine, Pinot Noir, and it's gorgeous vineyards.

Inside there is a main foyer with many wine gifts and merchandise to purchase such as decorative gold flutes, soaps, books, trinket boxes, and chocolates.

We were escorted to the salon where we tasted three of the sparkling wines.

From left to right:
2011 Domaine Carneros Brut Rose' ($34)

2010 Domaine Carneros Brut ($24)

2010 Domaine Carneros Ultra Brut ($42)

These sparkling wines were delicious and who doesn't want a glass of "champs" everyday right here in Napa/Sonoma?

We also tasted a 2007 Le Reve Blanc de Blancs ($105), their finest Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine. Le Reve is French for "the dream". And it was! 

Here the sounds of the salon and watch the bubbly as you wish for some right now!

It was a beautiful experience and a perfect end to an amazing winecation in California's northern wine country!  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

El Molino Central, Sonoma, CA

El Molino Central is one of those "under-the-radar" Mexican cafes that we normally would not know to stop for food. It's not fancy inside or out, but is widely known for its stone-ground cron that is the basis for their tacos, tortillas, and tamales. 

The tables aren't fancy at all; in fact there are only picnic tables outside in the back parking lot with cute red umbrellas. 

This food is known as "Mexican Street Food" and is delicious! We ate and ate till our hearts content (and belly)! 

Check out their website for the menu! It's worth the stop and you don't have to dress up at all!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#Keeverwines Keever Vineyards

Our last tasting on Saturday took us to a very small boutique winery in Yountville. This is a family owned and operated winery on six acres of rocky hillside and it is breathtaking looking down on the valley. 

They produce an exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon that was delicious at release but will mature over the next six to eight years and they say will hold easily for fifteen. Only 945 cases were produced of this deliciousness!

Oddly enough, I never took one picture of the bottles of wine. I guess at that point I was so enamored with our private tasting with no one else on the property. It was very special.

 These owners were ready and prepared for us with elegant personalized color brochures on quality paper. I knew Don was hooked at that point. Olga Keever took us in and treated us like family. 

She was so passionate about their winery, taking on a tour of where all the action takes place from harvesting to storage in the beautiful caves.

We met her husband Bill, with whom we visited with a while about barbecuing. It seems that he loves to do that. He had a nice cooker outside the building.

 Such lovely people and their wines were amazing. 

We tasted: 

2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($32), only 449 cases produced. Click on each wine for the winemaker's tasting notes. I can only say that their wines were delicious and very worth purchasing.

2011 Inspirado ($68), a Bordeaux-inspired blend, only 450 cases produced. Oh how I love a great Bordeaux blend! This is lovely tasting!

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($110) as I described above. This is like drinking velvet and silk at the same time. It was beyond exquisite!!!!!

Thank you Olga and Bill for retiring in Napa and living your dream. I know it isn't easy, but must be very rewarding every time you open up a bottle of your wine!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

#frogsleap Frog's Leap

Our next tasting led us to 8815 Conn Creek Road in Rutherford, California. This was probably the most crowded tasting room, which was actually a gorgeous home!

We were expecting the kind of tastings we had had up to this point, but it didn't happen. Now, don't get me wrong. The wines were great, the home was absolutely perfect for tasting in and around on the porches, the staff was friendly but very busy and unfortunately not ready for us. We had an appointment time, but it didn't really matter. We could have shown up unannounced and still tasted the "today's wine flight". 

No, this was not our table, but rather we had a little corner on the side porch where the wine flights were set up for us. After being seated, the staff member quickly told us what we had in front of us and left. He checked on us one other time and we asked for something off the list that was never delivered. 

We tasted a 2013 Chardonnay ($32) and bought two of them. 

We tasted a 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($52) and bought two of them.

We also tasted a 2013 Zinfandel and a 2012 Merlot, which were both good.

I do have to say their property is beautiful with everything a farm would need including sheep, chickens, horses, etc. There's a beautiful red barn that I'd like to check out the next time we are close. An ever-changing garden of flowering plants with insects pollenating as you stroll by.

And here's the happy couple that loves wine tasting together!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Giugni's Deli in St. Helena, California

The best sandwich deli I have ever eaten in is right downtown St. Helena in Napa Valley. It's cash only and there aren't very many places to sit, but that's okay because the food is amazing!

You tell them everything you want on your sandwich from the small sheet menu. There are 30 meats, 20 cheeses, and 9 different bread/rolls to choose from. If you don't want a sandwich, there are other fresh made foods in the cases from which to choose.

The deli is cozy and packed with drinks, chips, candy, meats hanging in the ceiling and walls are covered with old signs and photos people have stapled to the walls.

We enjoyed our quick lunch, shopped around the town for a short time, and drove on to our next winery, Frog's Leap! Ribbit, ribbit!

Dan and Linda trying to decide what they want to eat!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Barnett Vineyards-Our First Winery on Saturday! #BarnettVineyard

Saturday Wine Tasting-No Driver! 

Saturday morning of our Sonoma vacation, Lauren and Tyler Flanigan, Linda's daughter and son-in-law, drove over the mountains and through the woods to spend the day with us wine tasting. So with three couples, we figured we could make it without a driver. Someone would have to be responsible! 

We headed for Napa by way of Spring Mountain, making our way to the first tasting, Barnett Vineyards. It was a beautiful drive up the mountain and more so when we arrived.

This was our view while tasting Barnett wines, which we have had before at the DCC, but this experience was worth the drive. It's one thing to taste wine and then it's another thing to taste wine in the vineyard where the grapes were grown, harvested, fermented, bottled and opened for guests!

We sat down at our choice of tables as no one else was there. This was a private, by appointment only wine tasting, so we got lots of attention and wine!

Lauren and Tyler taking in the view!
The wines we tasted were fabulous as expected and here they are!

 As you can see this bottle of 2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($28, not currently available) was empty, but not by us! This delicious wine has "loads of honeysuckle and limeade that dominate the nose of this pale straw shaded wine. Aromas of kiwi and gooseberry fruit complement the range of citrus elements. The wine is round and mouth filling, with fresh melon, green apple and grapefruit on the palette. The acidity is bright, but balanced, and a long finish of candied lime and melon linger on the finish. This is a wine meant to be chilled and enjoyed in its youth." 

The 2013 Chardonnay Savoy Vineyard ($42) "brings out some big pear, red apple and blooming tulips on the nose. Lemon custard, white pepper and soapstone minerality are also present. The palette begins with a soft lushness, and continues with flavors of caramel apple, cinnamon toast and limeade. There is some very firm acidity on this wine, which lends itself to age. Bright and fresher in its youth, it will develop some wonderful elements over the next 5-6 years (2018-2019)."

2013 Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley ($55) "This dark ruby Pinot is layered in complexity. Fresh concentrated black cherry is matched by red currant. Jasmine, cinnamon, vanilla and licorice complement the fruit. Soft lushness starts the palette off; continuing is more vivacious red fruit as well as pepper spice and pencil lead. The tannins are structured this year, with moderate acid. This complex wine will only develop more layers over the next 7-8 years (2020-2021)."

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District ($75)was phenomenal!  This Cabernet "jumps from the glass. Immense amounts of aromatics are extremely prevalent upon pouring. Giant amounts of blackberry, ripe fig, violet perfume and plum are surrounded by creamed coffee, cedar and allspice. The mouth feel is velvety, and rich. Black currants, mocha and pepper flavors take over on the palate. The tannins are definitely present in a round chalkier form, where very firm mountain acidity aids to balance them out. Although extremely aromatic already, this stunning wine will age beautifully over the next 14-15 years."

The highlight of our tasting was getting to tour the cave where the wine is stored.

Inside the cave is so cold!

Outside the cave where the tasting took place.

We were supposed to eat a picnic lunch here, but we failed to get it together the night before. So we headed into St. Helena to look for a place to eat. Thank you Lauren for choosing our eatery! Next blog will tell about Giugni's!