Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wine Guy & Wine Gal Visit Napa

Today we made the 45 minute drive up to Napa to visit an old favorite as well as three new wineries. Here's a quick rundown on each one, and a few corresponding pictures:

1) Hess Collection
Every time we go to Hess we are reminded of exactly why we decided to join the wine club here. The wines are top rate, the people are friendly and inviting, and the tasting room is elegant yet relaxed. I don't think we have tasted any wines here that we didn't like! We'll definitely be taking some Hess wines home to share with our families over the holidays.

Hess's gorgeous ivy covered wall - fall colors!

2) Cakebread Cellars
We have heard rave reviews of Cakebread from some of Andrea's family members, so we had to try it out for ourselves. In order to taste here you have to make a prior appointment. We showed up on time and were quickly whisked away to a short tour followed by a tasting. The facility was gorgeous and the people were very nice. The wines were good, but we felt that they were a little over-priced for the quality. The Syrah was probably our favorite wine that we tasted here. Overall, Cakebread was a very good experience.

We loved the floor-to-ceiling windows inside Cakebread's facility.

3) V. Sattui
Again, we had heard great things about this place and it was certainly one we wanted to visit since the wines can only be purchased at the winery - V. Sattui does not distribute at all. We had to wait for a few minutes before we could make it up to the tasting bar, and once we were there the wines were very good. We ended up buying a Muscat dessert wine. On the day we went it was verrrry crowded - it was kind of funny because the other two wineries were very slow that day, so once we went to V. Sattui we figured out where everyone else went! ;) They have a great shop with picnic food and a huge picnic ground as well. It seemed like everyone else had the same idea as us for a picnic. We had some dill havarti cheese and gouda cheese, some salami, and a fresh loaf of french bread. Yum!

Inside V. Sattui Winery

4) Prager Winery & Port Works
This is our type of winery! Very small, hole-in-the-wall type of tasting room, and the entire operation is run by just four employees. It is family-owned and operated, and the specialty is a bit different than most wineries - Port. We actually ended up buying the Petit Syrah here because although we enjoy Port, we rarely drink it. The staff here was amazing, and the decor was quite interesting to say the least - dollar bills were stapled to every wall and ceiling, and all of them had been signed by visitors of the winery. The radio was blasting out some Led Zeppelin too, so as you can tell, this isn't your typical winery. Oh and I almost forgot the best part - they let you keep your tasting glass...but unlike many wineries where the "take home" glasses are small and/or cheap, these were very large, high-quality glasses that we will actually use! Prager gets an A+ from us. Visit this one if you're ever in Napa.

The dollar-covered walls at Prager.

Value Wine of the Week: Charles Shaw Valdiguie Nouveau

A lot of you are probably familiar with a wine called Beaujolais Nouveau, which makes an appearance in grocery stores and liquor stores worldwide every year right around this time... You might recognize it by its extremely colorful label:

If you want to see what the fuss is all about with Beaujolais Nouveau, just read this Wikipedia entry. It costs about $10 per bottle.

The point of this post is to tell you about a similar style wine that is cheaper and just as good: Charles Shaw Valdiguie Nouveau. I know Charles Shaw sometimes gets a bad rap because it's so cheap, but honestly Karl and I have been pleasantly surprised with the quality of this wine. Every bottle is just $1.99 (hence the nickname "Two Buck Chuck") and tastes every bit as good, if not better, than the $10-12 bottles most people buy at the grocery store to have with dinner. The Valdiguie Nouveau is only available at Trader Joe's, and it is a very light-bodied dry red wine that is very fruit-forward. Karl and I enjoyed it with some fish recently and it paired perfectly.

Check it out if you get a chance. Here's a picture of the label:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We're going to start wine blogging again!!!

Hello everyone! Sorry for the hiatus from wine blogging. The Wine Guy and I have gone through a lot of changes this past year, moving to California, starting new jobs, etc., and quite frankly all of that just didn't leave enough time for wine blogging.

We're probably going to follow a less formal format on here than we have in the past. Anytime we drink a new wine we'll try to make a quick post just to let you know what we think about it. Some posts might be more in-depth than others...we'll see. I can say right now that we have enjoyed QUITE A FEW excellent wines since moving to California! We've also visited a very large number of wineries. Here's a quick breakdown of the ones we've been to in Napa and Sonoma. Feel free to comment with questions about the wineries if you want our opinion on any of them:

-The Hess Collection (we are wine club members here)
-Bouchaine Vineyards
-Grgich Hills Cellars
-Robert Mondavi Winery
-Silver Oak Cellars
-Folie a Deux

Viansa Winery
Cline Cellars
Jacuzzi Family Winery
Schug Carneros Estate Winery
Bartholomew Park Winery
B.R. Cohn Winery
Moon Mountain Vineyard (we're wine club members here too)
Mayo Family Winery
Kunde Estate Winery
Korbel Champagne Cellars
Martinelli Winery
Rochioli Vineyards
Hop Kiln Winery
Armida Winery
Rosenblum Cellars
Simi Winery
Preston of Dry Creek
Quivira Vineyards
Dry Creek Vineyards
Lambert Bridge Winery

That's all....we'll try to add an entry tonight. :)