Last Friday — I think I’m just now recovering a week later — was quite a day of wine tasting. I never take notes during such experiences but do try to at least write down the names of wines I would recommend for my own purchases and others. If I mention the wine, I would recommend it but an * indicates that I found the wine particularly outstanding. Note, I only tried a fraction of the wines available at these events. One would have to be some sort of super taster on a paid vacation to work through all offerings.
Taste Napa Valley – part of the Napa Vintners’ Auction Napa Valley. This event featured numerous wineries pouring their current releases, many local restaurants offering wonderful edibles, the closing hours of the online e-Auction with computers set up for last-minute bids, and the barrel auction of future releases. Personal observation and confirmed by several vintners was that bidding was down from previous years. Many bidders at the barrel auction were able to pick up some future cases of quite renowned wines for less than the ultimate release price. I was pleased however with our E-Auction lot which went for $5101. Ultimately the auction raised $5.7 million for local Napa Valley non-profits. This is a little more than half of what was raised last year.
Bottled Highlights:
*2007 Truchard Roussane
*2008(?) Heitz Grignolino Rose
2007(?) Broman Sauvignon Blanc
2007 Madonna Estate Pinot Grigio
*2005 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon
Barrel Highlights and there were many reflecting the excellent 2007 Napa vintage:
2007 Blackbird Contrarian Bordeaux Blend
2007 Crocker Starr Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 DR Stephens Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon
*2007 Jones Family Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon
*2008 Mi Sueno Cabernet Sauvignon – if you don’t know Mi Sueno’s wines, you should
*2007 Realm Beckstoffer Dr Crane Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Roy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
*2007 Sonador Cellers Cabernet Sauvignon “The Dreamer” – a winery I’d never heard of but I think one to watch, very charming, lush, approachable, and I believe they said the price point of this wine is in the $50′s
*2007 Viader Cabernet Sauvignon
Next, it was on to Herb Lamb tasting at Acme Wines in St Helena. They were pouring their 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, 2006 EII Red Wine, and *2005 HL Cabernet Sauvignon. All were good to outstanding. If you’ve not had a chance to meet Jennifer and Herb Lamb, do it. They were wonderful, down to earth, and charming people. It was also a pleasure to meet face-to-face winemaker Michael Trujillo after so many years. His wife planned my wedding back in 2001.
Cheers St Helena – this is the first year for this event held the first Friday of each month (starting last month and ending in October). The merchants of St Helena stay open late and most have a winery pouring inside plus many have restaurants providing munchies. Tickets are $5 a taste, $35 for a VIP one night unlimited tastings, or $100 VIP unlimited for the whole season. This is not your run-of-the-mill wine festival. They limit the number of winery participants to 50 local wineries and there is a waiting list to participate. (I know, I’m on it.) This differs as usually these types of events are begging for participants. Sign of the times, I guess.
Highlights:
Scott Harvey Wines – a new one for me. I liked their 2007 Jana Rose (Napa) and their *2005 Old Vines Zinfandel (Amador County)
2006 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee – “hot” nose, but delicious taste
*2005 Venge Vineyards “Scout’s Honor” Zinfandel blend
2006 Bouchaine Pinot Noir Carneros
*2007 Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc
2006 Miller Wine Works Grenache Shannon Ridge Vineyard, Lake County – another new one for me. I’m not normally a big Grenache drinker but thought this one was quite attractive
2006 Pride Cabernet Sauvignon – undoubtedly this will be a great wine but it’s almost painful to drink now. Honestly, I’m surprised they would choose such a baby to show at this sort of mass venue.
I finished up the evening with the delicious Oysters Bingo and the Brutus Caeser sitting at the bar of Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. One final “new” discovery, 2006 Six Sigma Sauvignon Blanc (Lake County) by the glass and a small taste from a neighbor’s bottle of *2006 Inman Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
And then I slept.

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