Posts Tagged ‘Napa Valley


a day at failla

Our trip to Wine Country began early Friday morning as we checked out of our hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf and into an estate car back to the airport to pick up the rental car (one of the limitations of booking with United Miles). From there it was a fairly easy drive over the Bay Bridge and up I80 through Oakland, with a quick job over to 29. We stayed at the new Best Western Ivy Hotel at the northern end of Napa. After we checked in and got settled we headed to our first winery of the trip: Failla. This a beautiful little winery nestled at the base of the mountains in the Northeastern corner of St. Helena off the Silverado Trail.When we arrived we were greeted like old friends. On the walls of the entry way stood proud but empty reminders of festive holiday parties past, including old Failla Jordan labels (would have loved to have been able try one of those Syrahs!). We were taken into what will eventually be the living room of the family home once the new caves and tasting rooms are completed just up the hill. The feeling was very warm and cozy with a large river rock fireplace and a decidedly Adirondack feel!

The river rock fire place.

A view if the porch.

We were to be joined by one other couple, so while we waited we were poured some of their 2009 Sonoma Coast Chard, which was just lovely with nice pear notes and a lovely and crisp acidic finish. Since Erhen Jordan spent quite a bit of time making wine in Rhone, his wines are decidedly Old World in personality with a nice balance of New World terroir. We were also treated to a taste of their very limited production (185 cases) 2009 Edna Valley Viognier, Alban Vineyard, of which the French Laundry gets but one case! It had a wonderfully floral nose and bright yet round palate and clean finish. I would have bought a bottle if they had any! Once the other couple arrived we got to revisit the Chard and tasted two Pinots and a Syrah.

The Chard and Viognier.

Both of the Pinots were exceptional. The first to be tasted was the 2009 Sonoma Stage that had a nose of autumn leaf and spice, with a rich, lush and spicy palate. The tannins were silky smooth and the finish lingered on like a fond memory of camping on a brisk fall weekend. The second Pinot we tasted (and the one we brought home) was the 2007 Peay Vineyard, which hails from the Sonoma Coast near Mendocino. The nose was ripe with spiced cherries and hints of leafy smoke. The mouth was treated to a lush palate of red fruits and velvety tannins and a finish that brings tart cranberry and crisp strawberry flavours. The last wine we tasted was the 2009 Phoenix Ranch Syrah, which I absolutely loved with it’s big warm nose of spiced dark fruits and sweet tobacco leaf and rich palate of plum and blackberries, aggressive tannins and velvety chocolate finish.

The tasting line up.

The spoils of tasting.

Sipping the Peay Vineyard pool side.

The Estate Chardonnay enjoyed at home.

If ever there was a way to kick off a weekend in wine country this was definitely it and we can’t wait to return. Not only to taste more of Failla’s wonderful wines but also see the new caves and perhaps sit on the inviting porch and sip some vino in the crisp and clean St. Helena air. Visit them online at Failla Wines


it’s a zin not to drink a cab

Had these over the last couple of nights.

The first is the 2008 Dry Creek Vineyard, Heritage Zinfandel, Sonoma Coast
It had a pretty low ABV for a zin about 13.5% if I recall, but it was big in body with lots of juicy stewed dark fruits with lovely smooth tannins and dark acidity to balance it out.

The second is the 2008 The Sum, Cabernet, Napa Valley, Oakville
For the price, in relation to other Napa cabs, this was a real bargain. I paid $23.00 (US) after tax at Marion Street Cheese Market. The nose was deep, dark and spicy with tell tale hints of eucalyptus and cedar. The palate was equally rich and dark with ripe plum and blackberry flavours. The tannins were a bit tight and finely textured but did smooth out over time. I’m looking forward to having a glass tonight to see how it opened up. The long finish treated the mouth with some nice dark cocoa notes wrapped around black cherry flavours.


2007 Hendry Pinot Noir Napa Valley

I picked up a couple of bottles on Friday from Just Grapes. One was a fav of mine the La Cartuja Priorat 2009, which was every bit as good as the past two vintages that I’ve had and the other was this Pinot Noir from Napa Valley near Carneros and Mt. Veeder along the Redwood Creek.

This Pinot shows deep garnet and ruby in the glass with a rich warm nose of spiced red berries, leather and earth with hints of backing spice. The palate is treated to bold red and dark fruit flavours with touches of cocoa and toast brought on with a good decant and the 11 months of 50% new French Oak aging. The Finish is well-balanced a nicely structured with supple and velvety tannins mingled with a fresh but not too tart acidity.

2007 Hendry, Hendry Vineyard, Napa Valley – Pinot Noir


staglin and steaks

So it was a gorgeous night out last night and the Hawks were playing…it was time for some Staglin and Steaks!

First a couple of nice ribeye on the grill:

Then pop open the 2006 Staglin Family Estate, “Salus” Cabernet, Rutherford
Let it decant for an hour:

The it was time to dine:

Right off the bat I noticed its deep ruby red color and its wonderful nose of red fruits, hint of mint and peppery oak spice. The palate was certainly rich and supple with tons of lush plum and blackberry flavours bolstered by pretty smooth tannins and underlying notes of oak and chocolate. The finish was long and smooth with only the acidity letting me know that it was still a bit tight and could have used another year or so. But hey! You only live once and win the Stanley Cup once in 49 years. Besides with the ribeyes and the Spinach and Bocconcini cheese salad with cherry tomatoes and red onion with a light oil and vinegar dressing, it was perfect! The night was perfect! Can’t go wrong with that!


everything you wanted in a Cab and Hess!

Trying out a new notes format….(tell me what you think)

2007, Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino, Lake, Napa

Region(s): 47% Mendocino County, 37% Lake County, 16% Napa County
ABV: 13.5%
Retail Price: $17.99 (Whole Foods in Oak Park, Il)

Back Label: “Sourced from family owned and sustainably farmed vineyards in three appellations: Mendocino, Lake and Napa counties. By narrowing the appellations to these three areas that specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, we feel this wine has reached a new level of richness and intensity. Mendocino contributes spice and mid-palate. Lake adds the classic red fruit profile of Bing cherry, while Napa maintains our signature style of a structured wine with black fruit and Cassis flavours.”

My Notes:

See: Deep ruby-red with tints of garnet.

Sniff: Red fruits and eucalyptus, white pepper, cedar, cigar leaf tobacco

Sip: Full-bodied, rich, supple, textured. Concentrated dark fruit flavours, blackberry, cherry. Dark chocolate. Silky smooth tannins. Finish is long and luscious with hints of toasty oak and black cherry acidity.

Impressions: My first impression is that this is a ready to drink cali red with rich fruit flavours and supple textures but with balance and finesse. It’s a wine that is not ashamed to say that it’s Californian. I like the blend of the three AVAs allowing each to compliment and contrast each other to create a wine that won’t overwhelm or fall flat or weigh too heavy on the palate. I had this with my usual “picnic fare” of Drunken Goat cheese, some smoked gouda, Genoa Salami and prosciutto di Parma. My favourite combo was with the smoked gouda and salami with a bit of prosciutto. The texture of the wine really complimented that of the cheese and salami and the tannins helped to cut through the oiliness. I really want to try this with a nice rib eye as well. Afterall my first encounter with Hess was their single vineyard Cab with a nice piece of 21 day aged rib eye at Mustards in Napa.

My overall assessment of the Hess Select Cab is that, for the money it’s a darn good value, offering up wonderful fruit flavours with great balance and rich textures. I will buy again!

Cheers and keep tasting!