Archive for the ‘Oak Knoll’ Category

Monticello Vineyards/Corley Family – 178

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

Monticello_signI have heard that Napa valley is home to 200 wineries, 300 wineries, and 400 wineries. I have never been able to get an exact number and I imagine there are more winery producers than there are those with actual facilities. With that in mind, having driven up and down the valley several hundred times, it was a wrong turn down a side road that proved the most exciting — a winery I had never seen before, Monticello!

Monticello_houseThe reason I had never seen Monticello before is because it is located on a little-known side road that runs in between the Silverado Trail and Highway 29 known as Big Ranch Road. It is mostly a giant quilt-work of planted vineyards with a farmhouse here and a Victorian replica there. But then there is this Jeffersonian replica belonging to the Corley family.

Monticello_tasting_roomJay Corley began as a grape grower in 1970 and built the stately facilities, opening his winery in the late 1980s. I was charmed by the staff and their warmth and interested in a number of wines that were not available to taste; a sparkling as well as a botrytis-affected Semillon. They refer to these wines as "secrets" and while I enjoyed the wines I did taste, I was most intrigued by the others.

2004 Monticello Vineyards Estate Grown Chardonnay – A classically designed California Chardonnay with a light aroma of green apple and kiwi. Crisp, defined mouth entry shows well-integrated oak with a touch of creaminess. Balanced and textured. $26.00

2003 Monticello Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir – Fabulously rich nose of ripe raspberry and strawberry. Complex with red fruit and earth, the soft tannins showed excellent heightened acidity and a long, supple finish. $34.00

2003 Monticello Vineyards Estate Merlot – Spicy fruit and dark, toasty oak bouquet with secondary aromas of green terroir. Tight mouth entry is constricted, but expands with swirling and aeration. Full bodied, muted flavors of dark fruit are moderated with supple tannins. A young wine that I would love to try in five or ten years. $30.00

2001 Monticello Vineyards, Jefferson Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon – Black fruit and green bell pepper with dark, dusty twigs and dried flowers in the nose. Young, flavors of cedar and cocoa dominates black fruit. $34.00

Monticello Vineyards/Corley Family Napa Valley ~ 4242 Big Ranch Road ~ Napa ~ CA ~ 94558 ~ 707-253-2802
$10.00 tasting

Carrefour – 167

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

CarrefourshortlabelnoviThere is always a pang of guilt when I am introduced to a Napa-based winery that I had never heard of before. At the Copia Cognoscente tasting, I was wracked with guilt seeing a roomful of unfamiliar names. So I was extremely grateful to a few folks who stuck around during the lunch break to chat with me, first and foremost, Greg and Marilyn Nitz, proprietors of Carrefour Vineyards, along with their winemaker, Kelly De’Ianni (she’s the one on the far left).

Carrefour_2With fifteen acres of grapes that they had previously been selling to Rombauer and still sell to Duckhorn, the 2004 their Sauvignon Blanc is now their first release. Additional grapes planted include most of the Bordeaux varietals with Pinot Noir coming from purchased grapes in Carneros. Great people and great wines — and something new worth looking out for!

2004 Oak Knoll Sauvignon Blanc – Intense green fig and floral bouquet. Grapefruit entry is balanced and vibrant without being astringent. The lemony finish shows depth and elegance. Only 340 cases produced. $16.00

2003 Carneros Pinot Noir – 1,200 cases produced of this new entry on the Pinot market. Bright spicy cherry in the nose mirrors the mouth entry. Tons going on in layers of complex fruit and integrated spice. The overall structure is medium bodied and the finish keeps going. $28.00

2003 Napa Valley Cabernet – 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petite Verdot. Dark, rich purple wine. Still unreleased, the flavors are admittedly young with depth of herb and mineral. Fruit is still tight and I would love to taste this wine in five or ten years. Not yet priced.

Carrefour ~ No address yet available ~ 707-252-9167

Robert Biale Vineyards – 136 & WBW!

Monday, August 8th, 2005

Sign_4This is a truly exciting post for me. To start, it is Wine Blog Wednesday where Brother Lenn has asked us to Drink Local. The assignment this month is to go and find the winery closest to your home. To my knowledge, I am the only blogger who actually lives in Napa so I have a distinct advantage over say, someone living in Utah… But in a way it was actually a bit difficult. My initial thoughts were that I was either in close proximity to either Laird or Trefethen. I initially posted on Lenn’s site that at least I didn’t live next to Screaming Eagle, which would have been decidedly expensive! I started perusing GoogleMaps and asked winemaker Karen Culler about a suspicious plot of vineyards that I had never noticed before and it is truly fabulous to have access to great people who can help answer questions…

Logo_on_woodA phone call or two later and some time spent on GoogleMaps and I see that a mile-and-a-half (as the crow flies) or 2.8 driving miles away from my humble abode lies a winery about which I knew nothing, Robert Biale Vineyards. So here I get to kill two birds with one stone — a brand new entry in my ongoing blog as well as a really cool installment to WBW! Serendipity was definitely at play here, as the Biale tasting room has been open a whopping two weeks!

Bldg_1The facilities are brand spanking new, but these guys are hardly the new kids on the block. Robert Biale’s family started growing Zinfandel grapes in Napa in the 1920s and now specializes in local historic vineyards. A third generation Napan, Robert has a reliable and dedicated crew (if Jayme, whom I met during my visit, is any indication).

WinemakerAlong with producing vineyard-specific zinfandels (some from 100+ year-old vines), with Al Perry heading up winemaking, additional very cool varietals now carry the Biale moniker; Petite Sirah, Syrah, Barbera, and Sangiovese. Al works closely with the growers from whence Biale’s grapes are grown and feels passionately about these grapes which are distinctly Californian.

Tasting_room_2As indicated, Jayme was the host for the day in the newly-built tasting room. It is an appointment-only establishment, but one worth seeking out, if only to hear the story of the black chicken… But go and taste and buy these wines. They are astonishing in their character and distinct disposition; worthy of aging as their depth shows, but astonishing young.

2003 Grande Zinfandel – This was the second vintage from the Rossi Vineyards produced under the Biale name. The wine is slighty cloudy dark garnet in color and at first demonstrates rich blackberry and boysonberry liqueur aromas, immediately giving way to aromas of freshly-cracked black pepper, sweet and aromatic. The mouth entry is smooth and continues the blackberry tones, but expands to reveal hints of herbs and rich, complex finish. $40.00

2002 Monte Rosso, Sonoma Valley Zinfandel – Sweet cherry nose that is distinctly berry in structure. Developed with deep floral qualities and a long, spicy finish thatis not biting or hot. The Monte Rosso is specifically 110-year old vines and the wine certainly shows its pedigree. $46.00

2002 Thomann Station Petite Sirah – From famous vineyards in St. Helena near Sutter Home, this wine is inky black red and produces a bouquet of elegant licorice, blackberry liqueur, and faint hint of ground coffee. The wine coats the tongue in a supple and velvety fashion showing some brighter acid on the front with a tease of coffee on the finish. $50.00

2002 Gaudi Carli Barbera – Very enticing dark garnet red color. Floral notes that are rustic, spicy, and elegant with a touch of candied cinnamon and a whisper of sweet anise. The entry is at first smooth, silky, and touch sweet. There is more spice on the nose than on the tongue. The acids brighten on the mid-palate and develops into a long, structured finish. $35.00

Robert Biale Vineyards ~ 4038 Big Ranch Road ~ Napa ~ CA 94558 ~ 707-257-7555

Steltzner – 126

Friday, July 29th, 2005

Steltzner_signDick Steltzner was born and raised in in Northern California and was inspired early on to enter the wine industry with Ernst Wente as his mentor. After college and some savvy real estate dealings which got him a small piece of property in the Stag’s Leap District, Dick found himself in the business of vineyard management. This was the 1970s.

Steltzner_bldgBy 1980 he started making his own wine in a building that had been constructed in 1915 as a prune dehydrating shed. Converting that building into a winery, his production grew from 3,000 cases to 5,000 by 1990. Now there is a Mediterranean-style complex in place of the prune building, and the business is up to 15,000 cases a year.

Steltzner_tasting_room_1Now Dick has daughter Allison at his side, learning the ropes and ready to continue her father’s legacy. The wines are classic Bordeaux varietals, expected for the Stag’s Leap appellation, but a few additional surprises await. The tasting room is intimate, with a living room ensemble and a baby grand piano in the corner.

Steltzner_tasting_room_2The staff is helpful, offering tasting comments as the wine is being poured. I actually prefer to make my own determinations before having flavors indicated, but I can certainly see the benefit to newbie wine tasters who are still learning about flavors that are in wine. I still took my own notes, not relying on what I was being told…

2004 Chardonnay, Oak Knoll Estate – No malo in the wine which was 100% fermented in stainless stell. Overt tropical fruits of pineapple and kiwi presented on the nose. Rich floral tones and easy entry. Complex white peach finish. $18.00

2004 Rosé of Shiraz – Fascinating offering. Meaty raspberry and a hint of strawberry on the nose that is not sweet, but deep. Medium to thin entry that shows some peach a minerals on the mid-palate. A bit more mineral finish that desired. Curious that they are growing Shiraz, but making a rosé with it. $18.00

2002 Merlot, Stags Leap District – Dusty twig and floral tones that subside to show some cherry and dark berry.  Juicy entry with muted tannins. $26.00

2001 Sangiovese – Possibly opened the day before as oxidized notes predominate. I did detect raspberry under the dusty twig with a faint whiff of licorice. $38.00

2002 Claret – 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 30% Merlot. Jammy blackberry with integrated sweet black licorice in its core. A faint hint of green bell pepper just hides behind, classic Stags Leap District. The rich, oppulent nose follows into the initial mouthfeel, showing spice and dark fruit but finishes a bit chalky and dry. $16.00

1998 Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
– Bricky red in color with obvious age. Smoky twigs and soft berries show in the nose. Medium bodied in the mouth feel displaying muted flavors despite the spicy nose. A bit of sen-sen burn in the back of the throat. $36.00

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District – Purplish in color, very bright and very fresh in tone. Cinnamon spice and hints of green olive are coupled with the fresh fruit. Juicy and long finish. $36.00

NV Terraces Merlot Port – Berry jam and black licorice couple with integrated dusty twig bouquet. The initial taste is decidedly sweet with the lovely spices being slightly toned down. $34.00/375ml

Steltzner Vineyards ~ 5998 Silverado Trail ~ Napa ~ CA ~ 94558 ~ 707-252-7272

Trefethen – 100

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

Trefethen_signTrefethen has a lot going for it. It is one of the very first wineries that tourists see when they start their drive up Highway 29 as they enter the Napa Valley. Trefethen is also very tongue-in-cheek with their Sideways back-handed Merlot comment above their sign. Thank goodness for their sign, as their winery is nestled among the vines, hidden far back off the main street.

Trefethen_bldg The building complex is located in the Oak Knoll Appellation which is one of the newest appellations established in the Napa Valley. One could say it is the love child of Janet Trefethen who spearheaded it into existence. Her winery building was part of the 1886 boom year of construction of gravity fed wineries and much of its original splendor is still evident in its grace and charm.

Trefethen_retail_roomThe tasting room is cozy with two tasting bars on opposite ends of the room and a private Library Tasting Room in a separate part of the building. The Library Tasting Room is by appointment while the adjacent, public room is open standard hours. There are some of the standard retail items, but of special note in a place of honor is an original piece of artwork by the renown Gerard Puvis who creates ‘sculptures’ out of the wine foils from the necks of bottles.

2004 Dry Riesling, Oak Knoll – Dry means low in sugar; .76% RS to be exact. This produces a clean, floral nose that hints of exotic flowers and some citrus. Those same flavors appear in the mouth entry and produce an easy-drinking, balanced offering that I would easily pair with some spicy Thai food on a hot afternoon. $18.00

2003 Estate Chardonnay, Oak Knoll – With only 26% malo, I found this wine to have balanced qualities of ripe tropical melon and creamy vanilla in both aromas and flavors. Some hints of mineral on the finish don’t diminish this easy-drinking wine. $28.00

2003 Pinot Noir, Oak Knoll – Warm, blossomy raspberry and cherry just barely hide an earthy base. Hints of dried flowers show in the nose and expand in the mouth to a long finish of dried cranberry and a touch of spice. $30.00

2001 Merlot, Oak Knoll – With 12% Cabernet, there was an initial hint of green bell pepper which gave way to black cherry and black plum. A dark fruit mouth entry gave way to a dried floral and herb mid-palate. The dry finish was spicy with clove and nutmeg. $30.00

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll – Warm, opulent berry showed in the nose and in the initial taste. Some hints of tobacco provides integration and complexity. $42.00

1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Oak Knoll – Dark purple in color, dark berry liqueur showed immediately but a touch of jalapeño showed through. Blackberry teased the tongue and the dry finish demonstrated eucalyptus and cedar. $75.00

2002 Late Harvest Riesling – Perfumey honeysuckle and jasmine floral notes play in the nose. A velvety entry that is bright with a touch of citrus and just a bit spicy with a long-finishing sweetness. $50.00/375ml

Trefethen Vineyards ~ 1160 Oak Knoll Avenue ~ Napa ~ CA ~ 94558 ~ 707-255-7700