Del Dotto Vineyards – we didn’t have an appointment so we didn’t go in, next time!
My cool driver
When I last left off we were finishing up with lunch at Bottega.
We didn’t have another tasting appointment until 2:30, so we drove around for a bit and enjoyed the beautiful Napa Valley scenery.
I love the dry, rugged hills and the never ending fields of grapes! Hello future wine. . . Our 2:30 tasting was at Cakebread Cellars, a winery that is well known and respected and difficult to get a tasting appointment at! We arrived early and walked around the grounds a bit. What a beautiful property! The staff was so friendly as they checked us in and welcomed us.
The tasting that I reserved was their Library Tasting, where some of Cakebread’s older wines are poured. Our guide, Jim, was fantastic. One thing that surprised me at Cakebread, and in Napa in general, was the complete lack of intimidation I felt. Jim told us there was no room for wine snobs and that wine was a communal thing that brings people together, meant to be shared with a great meal. I happen to agree, but as someone who is young, has a budget, and is just at the tip of the iceberg in learning about wine, I thought that Napa would be full of wine snobs. I couldn’t have been more wrong! And the friendlier people were the more I learned. It was really exciting and pointed me toward some future career goals perhaps Jim led us up to the tasting room which was cool and lovely, far from the crowds in the retail store.
That’s Jim in the Hawaiian shirt. He was so great! Each place setting was set with 5 glasses, all beautiful and delicate. The table included water and breadsticks for palate cleansing. Jim was extremely informative and showed us how to appreciate the wine using all of our senses, including several levels of smelling the nose of the wine. He knew so much about wine and obviously loved what he did. Most of the wines we tried were from around 2002. I wish I had a card to take with me, but the tasting list was actually in a beautiful leatherbound book. I do know that we tried a couple of Cabernet Sauvignons, and the difference between those and the younger wines we had tasted was incredible. They had such body and fullness and long long finishes. I want to go back to Cakebread to do this tasting again; I just know I would learn even more and to develop more of an appreciation for these reserve wines. Amazing. We didn’t get to buy any wine at Cakebread, but I have the order form next to me at the moment. . . We moved on to our final tasting of the day which I scheduled at Mumm Napa, partially because this was the wine that our cottage owners in Grenada bought for us during our honeymoon, and partially because our friends Jules and Duncan said that this was a must visit. I made an appointment for us to do our tasting on Mumm Napa’s Oak Terrace. We arrived earlier than our scheduled time, but the hostess on the Oak Terrace was so sweet and took us right away. Oh. my. gosh. Mumm Napa is the jewel in the Napa crown. The Oak Terrace is more expensive than a regular tasting, but it is semi private and overlooks the valley, and the service is just incredible.
The Oak Terrace has big comfy chairs and foot rests and umbrellas. The whole area is surrounded by misters that emit a mist so fine that it evaporates before it touches you, but keeps the dry, hot air fresh and cool.
We each had a flute of the 25th Anniversary Brut Reserve. Described in the tasting notes as creamy, with vanilla, fig, and cherry flavors, this wine was just stellar. I could taste the creaminess, the roundness in this, which I don’t think I have experienced before with a sparkler.
We sat on the Oak Terrace forever. The hostess, Sara (or Shelby? Her name tag said Shelby, but she signed the bill Sara. In any case, she was awesome!) brought us lots of ice water and crackers and encouraged us to linger. And so we shared a glass of the 1997 DVX Magnum. The crispness of this wine was like a celebration on the palate. We slowly savored every sip of this glass, a splurge by all means, but totally worth it.
Not everyone can be a model
We were the only ones in the front of the terrace. It was SO much quieter and emptier than the regular tasting area! For me, any trip to Napa will be incomplete without a flute at Mumm. If you are traveling to Napa go here!
Next up. . . dinner at Farm at the Carneros Inn. Don’t forget to leave me an ingredient for the Chopped Challenge! I am going to randomly choose the ingredients tomorrow!