Thursday, December 3, 2009

From Castle to Mountain

I finally made it to the infamous Napa Castle, or more technically named, Castello di Amorosa, just north of St. Helena. I'd heard about the extensive project many times and everyone had raved about it, but I was generally not all that interested as it seemed to fall in to the "touristy" category not for real oenophiles. I must say, I was impressed on many fronts.

In short, the castle was patterned after castles from 10th to 16th centuries and is an amazing piece of vision, construction and attention to detail 15 years in the making. Our guide, Kerry, was extremely knowledgeable, informative and organized in her presentation. She whisked us through the labyrinth of levels within the walls and through the myriad of cellars, cubbyholes and chambers finally arriving at our own private tasting room.

The wines were actually better than I had expected with so much attention to the aesthetics of the property and really enjoyed the entire experience. Two wines stood out most was the Gewurztraminer and the Super Tuscan blend. What was most impressive is their model to hold on to the wines in bottle longer than almost anyone giving the wine up to 4 years in bottle before release. Walls and walls of wines from the early 2000's still waiting for release...I'll be waiting.

Second was our visit to CADE on Howell Mt. This is one of Napa's newest properties and one of the most contemporary designs to come along in quite a while. The views are amazing and I really enjoy their wines. We tasted - '07 Sauvignon Blanc, '06 CADE Cuvee, and '06 Cab - along with some simple but delicious food pairings to go with each. DJ & Kent Nielsen are the resident chefs there and they have always done a great job in both presentation and attention to wine pairing. My favorite wine was definitely the straight Howell Mt. Cabernet.

Anyway, short week this time around with family in town...more to come next week!

Till the sip, swirl ya' later!

Chief Wino

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