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The Cellar: Report from Napa Valley

Saturday, October 06, 2012

 

It's heaven for wine lovers, and Steffen Rasch returns from Napa Valley with finds you can get right here.

Last week I traveled around the San Francisco Bay area and visited some amazing wineries. While some of them were small boutique wineries that don’t have any distribution in our area, I did visit numerous good ones whose wines are available locally.

Cakebread Cellars

I started my trip north of the Bay with a couple of days in Napa Vally where I visited, among others, Cakebread Cellars and the sparkling wine house Domaine Chandon. Cakebread makes a lot of solid wines, among them a Sauvignon Blanc ($24) that, according to the folks at the winery, appears on more domestic restaurant wine lists than any other wine. This wine is a great value and one I highly recommend you seek out. 90% of the 2011 vintage was aged for 5 months in neutral French oak barrels, adding texture to a wine that displays delicious green apples and melons alongside mouthwatering citrus fruit flavors.

Domaine Chandon

While Chandon is primarily known for its less expensive, widely distributed sparkling wines, they actually do make higher-end bubbles including reserves, vintage bottlings and their top series of sparkling wines labeled ‘etoile’. I was really impressed with its winery-exclusive vintage bruts sourced from Mt. Veeder, Yuntville and Carneros ($45). These wines are made the traditional method and age 3-5 years on the dead yeasts cells before final bottling. This series of wines are made to highlight the special characteristics of Chandon’s Estate vineyard appellations. Cool stuff!

Wente Vineyards

I spent the next few days east of the Bay, and visited a bunch of smaller and medium sized wineries. In Livermore I visited Wente Vineyards, American oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery. While you may be familiar with their entry-level ‘Vineyard Selection’ series, their small lot wines and their ‘Nth Degree’ series are not widely distributed but worth mentioning (and certainly tasting) nonetheless.

David Bruce Winery

The last few days before heading back to San Francisco were spent south of the Bay visiting wineries in and around Santa Cruz Mountains and Los Gatos. Probably the biggest surprise was a visit at David Bruce Winery. Established in 1961, this winery is located off a windy road in the mountains at more than 2000 feet elevation. They are currently in the middle of thinning out inventory at David Bruce with library wines (older vintages) being offered at great discounts, among them interesting vertical Estate Pinots from 2002-2004 and older Chardonnays. Their complimentary tasting currently includes their 2005 Estate Chardonnay ($40), which is drinking absolutely amazing.

Local vineyards right here in RI

If you don’t see yourself traveling to northern California wine country anytime soon, I recommend starting of by visiting some of our local wineries instead. There are also some great wineries in upstate New York and on Long Island. If you would like to learn more about wine in general, in a relaxed and fun atmosphere, you should consider signing up for one of my wine tasting at the Providence Wine Academy. Check online for upcoming events.

Cheers!

Steffen Rasch CSW is ready to answer any wine-related questions, comments or concerns you may have. Feel free to email him at [email protected]. And as always, don’t forget to follow GoLocalProv’s Wine Cellar on Facebook.

 

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