Bev and I flew up to Oakland and rented a car and took off for our Bottleshock tour of Napa on Saturday; Chateau Montelena, Heitz, Praeger Port Works, Freemark Abby, and Sunday we did Grgrich Hills, Castillo de Armarosa, Stags Leap, Frogs Leap and Opus One.
Chateau Montelena was nice, we did end up buying a Riesling, Chardonnay and a Cab. Heitz, I loved- again, bought a Cab there. Freemark Abby, the only winery that had both a red and and white wine in the 1976 Paris Tasting, was very nice too, less expensive wines- bought a couple Petite Sirahs, a Sauv Blanc and a Zin . Praeger, we just drank port.... huge pours.... not a good thing on an empty stomach :). At that point we were done... went to hotel and slept till 6:30pm and then went out to dinner at a very nice Italian place. (A note on our hotel- when we checked in they informed us that the hotel had NO HOT WATER until Tuesday.... there were no other hotels vacant this weekend, so they gave us 30% off the room rate which made it less than $100)
Sunday's tasting started at 9:30 in the morning... ahhhh Grgrich Hills.... what a way to start the morning. I loved them all. Bought a Cab and a Sauv Blanc. From there we decided to drive back up to Calistoga and see the Castle winery, Castillo de Armarosa. I have learned something over the years of wine tasting, the reason wineries have castles is because the wine sucks... $16 for a tour and tasting.... a waste of money. Nice castle, $40 million to build, 15 years to finish.... should have spent the money on a winemaker. We then went to V. Sattui for lunch, which was nice. Then we took off to Frogs Leap, nice tasting wines, bought a rose and dessert wine.
We had about an hour to kill before Opus One so we were near Stags Leap and did a tasting there. Nice move. Great tasting room, great people, awesome wines. I bought a very nice Yountville Cab and Sauv Blanc.
Lastly was Opus One. Bev had bid on a tour for 6 people at a fundraiser earlier in the year, and she won it! Beautiful winery. Our tour guide greeted us in the lobby. He took us into the greeting room to discuss the history of Opus One, then we went into the winery, where they were hand sorting through the 20 tons of grapes that came in that morning- we got to see their entire process live, including a brand new optical grape sorter, that uses a computer to sort through the grapes and discards the ‘bad ones’. We toured their barrel rooms, and then into the private tasting of the 2005 and 2006 vintages, where we could have finished off bottles of both. I had a glass of each, but we were leaving for the airport or we could have finished them off. I bought a bottle of the 05 and two bottles of their second label wine, Overture.
We ended up with 18 bottles, and spending less than our budget.
Funny, I have always stayed away from the big wineries, and focused on the small boutique wineries. And in the past I always felt the Napa attitude, we didn't have any of that this weekend, it was totally positive. This time bigger was better… except for the castle.
Next time, you need to join us!