Archive for the ‘Yountville’ Category

Rocca Family Vineyards – 188

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

Rocca_bldgDowntown Napa is becoming quite the place to hang a shingle. New restaurants are popping up and re-vitalization is happening to the credit of the city. On Main Street, where some of the best restaurants in the valley can be found, a new tasting room has opened, Rocca Family Vineyards.

Mary_roccaMary Rocca, proprietress, has a beautiful smile. She should too… she used to be a dentist! She sold her practice to run a gourmet grocery store in Pt. Reyes (and still owns it), but has zeroed her attention to her wine. Having Celia Welch Masyczek has her winemaker certainly doesn’t hurt either. While Mary’s Rocca name is on the bottle and the building, her husband, Eric Grigsby, is definitely an influence. For starters, they had established a second label, H. Gray, which was in honor of Eric’s father and grandfather. Also, take a close look at the Bad Boy Red label; a studly black and white image of a cowboy graces the bottle. And who do you think that studly cowboy is? Eric, of course.

Rocca_tasting_roomUnlike most other tasting rooms in the valley, Mary’s is geared more towards providing a relaxing and inviting atmosphere. Yes, there is a tasting bar, but the cozy leather chairs and living room-like feel is warm and  comfortable atmosphere. Chatting with Mary, they are already considering buying some vineyard property in the Lodi area for the cultivation of some white grapes. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a Viognier or Roussanne, and look forward to the additional fabulous wines coming from this relatively new producer!

2002 H. Gray, Amador County Zinfandel
– Fruit forward on the nose, this medium-bodied entry has a spicy entry with a sweet core of fresh herbs and clean fruit. This is the one wine that Mary produces from purchased grapes; all else she harvests from her own vineyards. Fabulous bargain for a great drinking wine! $20.00

2003 Bad Boy Red, Yountville – 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Syrah, 13% Petite Sirah. Intense, dark spicy wine with a core of peppery, blackberry and boysenberry. Rich entry that is clean and dark. Amazing liqueur flavors with chocolate, tobacco, cocoa, and coffee. Easy and smooth, but with a delightful piquant kick at the end. $29.00

2001 Rocca Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville – Big, massive Cab showing cherry, tobacco, and integrated herbs. The mouth feel has some classic dusty cocoa of the Yountville appellation, but is well balanced with vanilla and a touch of anise and dark cherry. Lovely, lingering finish. $34.00

2001 Rocca Syrah – Big blackberry wine with sweet licorice and elegant, exotic perfumey notes. Massive entry that has layers of spicy and sweet tones of black plum and blackberry, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and licorice. $38.00

Rocca Family Vineyards ~ 1130 Main Street ~ Napa ~ CA ~ 94559 ~ 707-257-8467
3 current offerings: $7.00
3 current offerings with 1 library wine: $10.00
All open bottles also sold by the glass

Conn Creek/Villa Mt. Eden – 127 & 128

Friday, July 29th, 2005

Cc_signThis was one of the more difficult posting, categorically speaking. I have been driving by Conn Creek‘s facilities every day for almost two years and met a delightful sales rep of theirs at the Premiere Napa Valley tasting. But I did not realize that their sister winery was Villa Mt. Eden so going to Conn Creek also means going to Villa Mt. Eden. Apparently there is also a bit of confusion which I had learned earlier that Villa Mt. Eden is not associated with Mt. Eden Vineyards.

Cc_bldgI have actually had the advantage of tasting some older Conn Creek offerings from the late 1980s and early nineties that I found quite intriguing. They have been in business since the early 1970s and produce Bordeaux varietals. The Villa Mt. Eden sister winery branches out a bit more with Zinfandel and Syrah offerings. Their websites indicate two separate winemakers; Mike McGrath for Villa Mt. Eden and Jeff McBride for Conn Creek.

Cc_tasting_room_2Oddly, there is little information on the Villa Mt. Eden site about its genesis and I am terribly curious about the affiliation and integration between the two wineries. Two winemakers? I imagine that in close quarters, there is much more of a team effort between the two, but I am saddened there is not more information about why there are two separate labels with different winemakers.

Conn Creek Winery
2003 Sauvignon Blanc – From the Tall Trees Vineyard, Napa. Delicate and lovely with lemon peel, a touch of citrus, and clean floral notes. All this adds to a more orange flavor in the mouth that is easy and not astringent. $18.00

2001 Cabernet Franc – 75% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. I believe this bottle might have been opened the day before as it showed distinct oxidized qualities of dust under the black cherry. $25.00

2001 Merlot – Tight cherry and blueberry just hide a tease of cocoa on the nose. The mouth entry is tight with mostly mineral tones. $25.00

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon – Unexciting offering of cassis and cherry with spice that seems slightly out of balance. I can’t put my finger on it, but there was no integration in the few flavors that I could discern. $25.00

2001 Anthology – 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petite Verdot, and 4% Malbec. Dried cherry and dried floral aromas show at first, but are quickly overwhelmed with hot, medicinal qualities. Not as full-bodied as anticipated, herbal flavors overwhelmed the fruit. $50.00

Villa Mt. Eden Wines

2004 Chardonnay, Grand Reserve, Bien Nacido, Santa Maria Valley – 100% malo shows a classic offering of dark fig and rich melon with buttery tones. Fruit forward in the mouthfeel, a bit of stone fruit brightens the mid-palate and a tangy finish surprises. $23.00

2002 Pinot Noir, Grand Reserve, Bien Nacido, Santa Maria Valley – Candy shop aromas of sweet raspberry and tangy cranberry. Medium-bodied in the mouth, mineral qualities seem to overwhelm what fruit existed in the nose. Thins a bit, showing a metallic finish. $23.00

2001 Zinfandel, Mead Ranch Vineyard, Napa Valley – Pale red color conflicts with the port-like nose of spicy toffee and chocolate. Port-like integrated aromas show hints of blackberry and the mouthfeel is firm and structured. Spicy cinnamon finish. $25.00

1999 Syrah, Grand Reserve – from the foothills of the Sierra mountains in Nevada County. Aromas of vanilla and ground coffee with a tease of wood. Odd. Jammy mouth entry is tight that never evolves. $23.00

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Tall Trees Vineyard, Napa Valley – Aromas of some spice and dark fruit and then mostly dusty dark chocolate. The flavors are at first jammy but finish with green olive. $15.00

Conn Creek Winery/Villa Mt. Eden ~
      8711 Silverado Trail ~
      St. Helena ~ CA ~ 94574 ~ 707-963-9100

Domaine Chandon – 51

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Chandon_sign Domaine Chandon is one of the many sparkling wine producers in the Napa Valley. It has a name that demands respect with a worldwide lineage of wine producers almost unparalleled; as a subsidiary of French-based Mõet Hennessy, along with their California winery, they have wine-making estates in Argentina, Australia, Spain and Brazil. Besides the attraction of a quality sparkling product, the Chandon estate is quite plain and simply down-right stunning. I tend to go first thing on Sunday mornings for brunch as the tasting bar offers a small menu including cheeses, pâté, or a simple bowl of olives.

Chandon_rock_art_1The building complex is of natural wood in sweeping and sloping forms which complement the overgrown, woodland-like landscaping in which it resides. Before ever entering the building, one is met with artwork. Local artist Richard Botto began constructing natural pieces out of river rocks and later began to incorporate forged metal into his pieces. Botto’s works are found all over the grounds, from an installation piece of a field of Mushrooms found right as you are approaching the entrance, to pieces appearing to be in a far off field, which can be seen through the large windows of the tasting room.

Chandon_tasting_barUpon entering the building, you will immediately find yourself in the ’boutique,’ essentially the sales area. The staff are gracious in guiding you through the education center, towards an upper floor where both the restaurant and tasting salon are located. It is quite refreshing to not be immediately inundated with a mass of people at a tasting bar into which you have to fight to find a spot. Another added benefit is that very fact that the retail sales are done away from the tasting room so there is never the feeling of hard sales by the person pouring and explaining their wine.

Chandon_retail_roomThe entire layout is spacious and luxurious. Along with some small tables and chairs near the tasting bar, more seating is available outside in a veranda area where guests are welcome to stay and relax. A well-known restaurant is encased within the tasting salon headed by respected chef Ron Wood. Of the wine itself, while single or multiple tastings are available, single glasses and whole bottles are also available. It is all about making the guest comfortable and if sipping some sparkling on a sunny afternoon is your sartori, Chandon is the place…

Chandon Brut Classic – Roughly 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay (a touch of Pinot Meuniere, but not exactly how much). Two years on yeast. Bright pineapple nose which is ever so slightly yeasty. Classic apple and pear notes. $17.00

Chandon Reserve Brut – Same 70/30 ratio as the Classic, but this wine sees four years on yeast. Surprisingly malo aromas of the Chardonnay. Creamy entry with a toasty finish. $24.00

Chandon Blanc de Noirs – 92% Pinot Noir with 8% Pinot Meuniere. Subtle bouquet of berries; strawberry and cherry with a crisp finish. $17.00

étoile Brut – A bit of the reverse from the first sparklings, with 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, this wine stays on the yeast a full five years. Elegant and ever so slightly yeasty, hints of honeysuckle in the middle. $35.00

étoile Rosé – 8% still Pinot Noir is added for the color. Bright salmon color with refined berry tones. Creamy entry with crisp, fruity finish. $40.00

Chandon Riche – Ripe, supple honey aromas and mouth entry which included apricot and peach. Ever so slightly sweet – not exactly a demi-sac but an extra-dry that enticed quite nicely. $17.00

2002 Domaine Chandon Chardonnay, Carneros – 30% malo which produced a hint of oak. The wine was refreshing and oddly figgy in a creamy sort of way. Pleasant. $19.00

2001 Domaine Chandon Pinot Noir, Carneros – Pale ruby in color with heightened strawberry aromas. A hint of earthiness on the entry that finished with a light spice. $29.00

2002 Domaine Chandon Piont Meunier, Carneros – Odd to see a 100% Pinot Meunier, Chandon claims to have introduced the grape to this country. Very bright, almost fluorescent red. Clean, raspberry nose with bright tannins on the acidic mid-palate. Peppery finish. $29.00

Domaine Chandon ~ One Californian Drive ~ Yountville ~ CA ~ 95499 ~ 707-944-2280