This 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…
A 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!
The 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).
Along 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.
As 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