Napa Day 6: 7 wineries

Yes, that’s not a typo. We visited 7 wineries. Maybe it was the addition of Ken. Maybe it was the 5 mile run that I did in the morning. We may never know. In honor of that event, I will be changing my blogging format to go over those 7.

1. Robert Mondavi
Because I joined the Simi wine club last Tuesday, it meant that we could go to both Mondavi and Franciscan for free and enjoy all the privileges of membership. Su and I had been here before in previous years and it’s safe to say we weren’t impressed. So we were completely surprised how not bad/good the wines were. We even got a free tasting glass to boot. The host was a nice guy who gave us a lot of information about wine and even let us know about all the extra tasting rooms that members could appreciate. So after leaving the main tasting room, we made our way to the club tasting room. After already tasting 7 wines, I managed to try a few more. We ended up leaving with two half bottles of the dessert wine(2000 Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis) that was sweet and yummy. The classiest thing about the company is that even though they couldn’t find my name in the wine membership database(not enough lag time), they seemed to take it in stride and assume I was telling the truth.

2. Rubicon
Rubicon has the distinction to have made a fantastic zinfandel a couple of years ago. That sole fact has kept me returning in the hopes of a repeat. Sadly, their wines are not very good and at $25 per person, it kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The guy serving us was very long-winded and really didn’t have a dialog as much as a monologue. We left without a purchase.

3. Franciscan
Su and Ken picked specific tasting flights while I used my power to dabble into many different wines. Again, I had a lot of wine, but I think the price point didn’t justify the flavor of the wines (or vice-versa).

3.5. Rutherford Grill
I mention our lunch spot for two reasons. I had a glass of wine. We convinced Ken that it was an awesome lunch spot after he tried the Prime Rib French Dip.

4. Chateau Montelena
After watching Bottle Shock, I wanted to go try both wineries that kicked the French butt all those years ago. The red winery was Stags Leap Wine Cellars. The white wine was this place. I’m a former member of the SLWC but I quit because though their wine is good, it’s crazy expensive for a blind club. We drove far north into the valley to get to CM. Pretty nice looking place. Though the Chateau was the filming location for the movie, it appeared that a lot of development took place since then. Anyway, all of the wines were good. The chardonnay is more the French style so not my thing, but we did buy a half case of wine. 2 2007 Potter Valley Riesling, 1 2006 Montelena Estate Zinfandel, 2 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1 2005 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

5. Lava Vine
We had planned to go to Rombauer next, but this place was a recommendation and on the way so we stopped for a tasting. And I’m very glad we did. The hostess was great and so were the wines. It was a very small production place, but they seemed to know what they were doing. Apparently, the winemaker is the same as some very expensive place. We bought 2 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 1 2008 Napa Valley Viognier. Ken was so impressed he became a member which meant our purchases were discounted. Everybody wins.

6. Rombauer
Weirdly enough, we had the same host as last year. This guy used to be a car salesman. One year later, his wine knowledge didn’t seem to improve. We need to figure out how to get a better host. Anyway, we tried a lot of wine there but nothing new blew me away. The chardonnay was still the creamiest of all others on this trip so that was good, but the reds were oh so disappointing. They also have good dessert wines (chards and ports) so I asked to try them. The dude only let us try the chard (which doesn’t really make sense to me). At the end, we ordered the following to be shipped: 3 zinfandel ports (based on last years reputation since we couldn’t taste ’em), 1 Late Harvest Joy (chard dessert), and 2 2007 Carneros Chardonnay.

7. Louis Martini
For some reason, we were still in the mood for tasting and I remember that this place had good old vine zinfandels. I asked the guy about it and he said they were sold out of last year’s vintage and the new one hadn’t been released. That made me sad, but we got to try some of their other wines. Nothing really stood out with the exception of their dessert wine, of which I got a bottle. They sell them big (750ml) which I wish more places would follow.

After the 7th winery, we crashed back at the hotel for a bit. I caught up on my WWDC news (although the stupid Wifi connection in the hotel wouldn’t let me watch the keynote). If interested, I wrote about the WWDC news in other posts.

We had dinner at Bottega (by Michael Chiarello, same guy where we tasted the wine last week). The food was ok, but not mind-blowing like other places. We were all sort of turned off by the lack of a proper Italian dessert like a tiramisu (or anything that we would actually order). It didn’t help that the waiter was a bit flaky. At least we didn’t buy any expensive wine (Ken and I were wined out for the day and had beer, so Su had to make do with by-the-glass options). Suffice it to say that it is highly unlikely we will be returning there.

And that wraps up the 7 (count ’em 7) winery visits in 1 day.

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