Friday, December 21, 2012

Wine Country Adventures- Napa

I knew Day 2 of our wine country adventure would be rainy, but it was a bit of a worry waking up to torrential rain this morning.  However, Lei and I were brave and headed out for breakfast at Bubba's Diner in San Anselmo (the creme brûleé French toast did not disappoint) before hitting the road to Napa County. 

Thankfully the rain calmed down as we arrived at our first stop for the day, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma.  Their tastings are seated, which allows you to relax and take as long as you need.  Lei and I were interested in sampling sparkling wines not on their tasting menu, so we each ordered two glasses.  However, since they weren't tasting size we actually got four full glasses of sparkling wine, which was a little much at 10:30 am!  Our four choices were:
- 2004 Extra Brut
- 2007 Brut Rosé
- Anniversary Cuvée
- Va de Vi
Even though the Va de Vi was more sweet and fruity tasting, I liked that one the best.  The staff in the tasting room were very knowledgeable, and having four separate glasses allowed us to revisit each one as it warmed up.

Our next stop was Domaine Carneros in Napa, which features an impressive château that houses a tasting room overlooking the organic vineyards.  We decided to do the sparkling wine sampler which included:
- 2008 Brut Cuvée
- Brut Rosé
- 2008 Verméil Demi-Sec
Our server was a lovely guy who really took care of us when he saw Lei's tasting wheel and notebook.  He generously also allowed us to sample:
- 2008 Ultra Brut
- 2006 Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs
- 2007 Le Rêve Rosé
Along with these fabulous sparkling wines we also got a cheese platter of both soft and hard cheeses from producers in the North Bay.  It was a really wonderful tasting experience, and the 2008 Brut Cuvée was my favorite one.

We next headed to Domaine Chandon in Yountville.  I had been to their winery in the Yarra Valley in Australia a few years ago, so I was expecting similar service.  However, the servers in the tasting room seemed distracted and not very interested in us as potential customers, which was disappointing.  Lei and I shared two different tastings.
Prestige Tasting:
- étoile Brut
- étoile Rosé
Reserve Tasting:
- Reserve Blanc de Blancs
- 2007 Carneros Vintage Brut
- Reserve Brut
I preferred the 2007 Carneros Vintage Brut, which is exclusive to the winery.

After so much sparkling wine I was ready to take a break for a late lunch.  We went to this great place that is well known by the locals in Napa, the Rutherford Grill.  I had the hickory burger which was very filling.  The place had a comfy vibe to it, so I can see why Lei used to be a regular here when she lived in Napa.

Our final stop on the two day sparkling wine tour was Mumm Napa.  We were fortunate enough to have a seated tasting and another excellent server who looked after us since Lei was in the wine industry.  We shared two different tastings of sparkling wines which were at least 3 years or older.
Club Vivant Taster:
- 2008 Devaux Ranch
- 2007 Blanc de Blancs
- Brut Prestige Extended Tirage
Staff Favorites:
- Brut Reserve
- Brut Reserve Rosé
- Santana Brut (done in partnership with guitarist Carlos Santana)
Our lovely server also treated us to the 2000 DVX, which was amazing and my favorite wine of the day.  It had a strong creme brûleé scent and taste right from the start, and I think Lei ended up buying two bottles!  Although my palate was a bit blown out by the end of our wine tour I still had a great time. 

We finished up our Napa adventure by heading over to the Oxbow Public Market for a light dinner.  It reminded me a lot of the San Francisco Ferry Building with its boutique artisan stalls.  I tried some oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. (and discovered I am not a raw oyster fan).  Since I was still full from lunch and all the sparkling wine, I settled for dessert from the local and organic Three Twins Ice Cream (I remember when Neal was just starting out the business at his Terra Linda scoop shop).  The scoops of lemon cookie and peppermint stick ice cream were amazing.  I also picked up some holiday themed cupcakes from Kara's Cupcakes to share with the family.  After a quick drive around Lei's old neighborhood in Napa we headed back on the road for home.

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