Napa Day 1

I’m up early again in my never-ending quest to work out and earn my wine and food appetite. Unfortunately, Su is feeling a little bit under the weather and opts to stay home. I head out for what should have been a simple 3 mile loop from the hotel. Let’s just say that I zigged when I should have zagged and ended up doing a 4 mile run that really wasn’t near the original loop. That being said, it was perfect running weather with a nice refreshing breeze after some early morning rain. Coming into our not-so-wonderful hotel room felt like I was walking into a sauna. The room just had this hot moist air sensation that we just can’t seem to get rid of. We opened windows, turned on fans, did a live animal sacrifice…

So as we’re getting ready, I ask Su what’s on tap for today and she says we begin with another 1.5 hour tour. I wouldn’t say my heart sank, but I wasn’t exactly too optimistic after our previous venture. Lucky for us both, Shafer turned out to be fantastic. Wine generally speaks for itself, but it is also important to have a good guide. I thought the dude did a great job, and the last two reds were just plain yummy. To be fair, I expected the last one to be good as it costs a whopping $215 (2004 Hillside Select). They even let us try the port which was pretty good, but not worth $85 for a half bottle. We left with 3 bottles of the 2005 Relentless (Syrah/Petit Sirah) and 1 of the Hillside Select. Yeah, a bit pricey but we think it tastes pretty darn tasty.

Next on the trip was a stop to Regusci. We tried them two years ago and they were delicious. Last year wasn’t bad but didn’t have the grandeur of the first year. This year, the host was very entertaining. I’m not sure if he was British/Aussie/other, but he kept using the term “This is good shit”. He also referred to me as a wet wine drinker which is probably more apt for Mr. Potts as it means someone who drinks any wine that’s wet. This was also the time where we met our second set of wine dogs (I forgot to mention the Shafer set). Generally speaking (and with our somewhat-limited experience), I think that wine dogs tend to be big animals. Unlike some big dogs I know, they are fairly easy going and don’t tend to jump on you all the time. That being said, they still do want some attention (as far as I can tell, it’s not to mooch wine as they don’t appear to drink). But I digress. We were able to try some of the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon that literally came off of the bottling line that morning. Even though I asked very nicely (because it was *so* good), we were not able to buy any of that particular wine. Fear not, we were not going to leave empty handed, because they had some other very good wines for sale. We left with 1 bottle of 2005 Patriarch, 2 bottles of 2005 Angelo’s Vineyard, and 3 of their 2006 merlot.

At this point, we were feeling a little hungry, so we made our way over to the Oakville Grocery to get some sandwiches for lunch. After wolfing them down, we were ready to tackle a few more wineries. Given that we already had two great visits, we decided to throw the dart at the winery board and pick some potentially less demanding ones.

So from the Grocery, the first no appointment required place was Sequoia Grove. What catches your eye immediately as you walk in is the row of increasing bottle sizes on display. Their smallest was a magnum leading up to a ginormous bottle that didn’t even have a name but I believe held 27L(3 cases) of wine. Apparently wineries make those for charity auctions. In fact, the Napa Valley auction is this Saturday where I’m sure more of those ridiculous bottles will be on display. Unfortunately, the fancy bottle was the best thing in this winery. The wine wasn’t very good. All in all, a good choice for post lunch as it let us get our palette back in action while giving our wallets a rest.

We then proceeded to Provenance (which we had tried last year). The host was wearing this shirt made by Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music (although instead of curtains, all that was available was a red and white picnic table cover). He was nice enough, and the wine was so-so. I did a taste test of 3 different merlots and found one to my liking. We left with a bottle of the 2005 Las Amigas.

As we don’t really like to pay for a tasting, we then went to BV (Bealieu Vineyards) which had a big banner visible from 29 that said “Complimentary Tasting”. We weren’t expecting anything good and our expectations were spot on. There were 3 old dudes behind the counter and we got served by one of them who was the spitting image of Dennis Farina.

For those keeping track, that was the 5th winery that we tried, so that about did it for the tasting. But as we(ok just me) are gluttons, we parked the car back at the hotel and went to the local Yountville tasting room Hope & Grace which apparently is the same winemaker as Regusci. The wine was nice and we picked up a 2005 Malbec and a 2006 Pinot Noir. In hind sight, I think that buying wine at the 6th winery is probably not a good idea as our taste buds might be compromised. We’ll know further when we actually drink the purchases.

Anyway, we crashed for a bit while we waited for our 7:30 reservation at Bistro Jeanty. Last year, we had a delicious meal and this year was no different. The waiter gave us a great Zinfandel recommendation and the meal was wonderful.

And so ends the first full day in Napa 2009.

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