So this happened…In another episode of “The Colonel is out for the night, what’s a Moby to do?” This is it friends, a bottle of Cotes du Rhone blanc and a bag of popcorn. Actually they’re not even bags anymore, they’re fancy bag-bowls that go nuclear when you try to open them. A rogue 4,000 degree kernel tried to murder me while tearing some sort of crime scene tape off the top. What happened to the old days, when all you had to worry about was a face full of piping hot steam? I don’t think we reviewed this wine yet, and while it was light and delightful with Orville Redenbacher’s light butter blend, it would certainly do well with a light fish dish or appetizers. I’m hoping it was reasonably priced and The Colonel will pick up another one so we can have it with a legitimate meal, but either way that’s what he gets for leaving me home alone!
Here at Grapestorm we live by the rule that every so often, certainly not all the time, you should treat yourselves to a hyper-pretentious, overindulgent, highly priced meal. If you’re in Napa/Yountville and it’s that time, look no further than Redd my friends. I’m not even sure where to start with this meal because it was out of control from start to finish. The restaurant itself is very minimalistic and contemporary (read: all the walls are white and there are barely any decorations), and I love how that’s a legitimate and fancy style, because I can say my old apartment was “minimalistic”. While you could interpret that to mean I have a cutting edge sense of style, I actually mean that I didn’t have a couch and sat on the floor while using a storage bin as a coffee table. My decorating tastes aside, it all worked at Redd. We opted for the tasting menu with the wine pairing, which we both assumed would mean selecting our own options from the menu but oh no, not here! They’re so pretentious that they not only know how to decorate better than you, they know what you want to eat more than you do. Based on which side of the table we were seated at, we received two entirely different tasting menus and wines. If you’re a normal person you’re probably thinking that’s awesome! You get to try twice as much food. And you’d be right! As uncouth as it may have been, there were forkfuls of food flying across the Grapestorm table that evening. From tuna tartare to squab, The Colonel and I ate almost every morsel of every dish with very few “meh, this was just ok” moments. If I remember one thing from that meal however, it was the life-changing pork belly that I was treated to that evening. If you’re not in the seat that has this as part of the tasting, I would seriously consider incapacitating your meal partner to steal this dish from them. I don’t know if I’ve ever had pork belly before, and I don’t even know if I want to have it again, because if it’s not as mind-altering as this was then it will just be ruined for me forever. Dessert was decadent but not overkill, since we ate so much during the meal I would have had to be very creative finding room for more. Otherwise, I think I would have been disappointed, but that’s what you get when you go to a fancy place. Overall we had 5 courses, 5 wines, plus some oysters and sparkling vouvray to start. Very pricey, very well worth it if you’re looking to splurge, and overall the most memorable meal of the trip.
As the conversation naturally drifted from wine to its best friend food at Neyers, we were told that we had to visit La Luna for lunch that day on our way to the next winery. Apparently our cheese and bread weren’t going to cut it after chatting about everything we liked to eat. I’m voting this the hidden gem of the trip, it was completely unexpected and absolutely delicious. Tucked away in the back of a nondescript mini-mart style building, we arrived just in time before the lunch line piled up to order our tacos. Al pastor, carne asada, lengua, and carnitas were on the menu for The Colonel and I and we weren’t let down by a single meaty, juicy, perfectly seasoned bite. Ridiculously priced at $1.75 each, we stuffed our faces with our cheapest and most authentic meal of the trip. If you go to Napa and you enjoy food you need to go here, period.
This was a great find, compliments of Ian from Wine Library. Definitely tucked away off the beaten, dusty, impossibly curvy path, you literally have to drive off the road to get here. We arrived early and were treated to some water and a seat on the terrace where the views were not quite as expansive as some of the other vineyards (we were in a valley after all) but we were pleasantly entertained by some lizards running around and seeing a group of ladies leaving, arms full of wine and clearly having a great time. Expect an intimate tasting, it was us, a couple stools, some great conversation and a bunch of great wines. We heard the owners’ story (always neat to hear when it’s actually an interesting story) and tried some unique wines considering where we were (such as mourvedre). This was an excellent tasting and we went home with a bottle of chard and mourvedre. Appointment only, very low key and focused on the wine.
When you arrived at Phelps you could tell you were pulling up to a large, commercial vineyard. It was a serious driveway entering the property (some of them you could have just as easily pulled into someone’s personal driveway instead of up to the winery, which we may or may not have done on this trip…) but you knew you were approaching a big production. The grounds were truly impressive, and the view was spectacular, but don’t expect that up close and personal tour that we received at other vineyards. We chose the terrace tasting option and were ushered to the outside terrace area for the actual tasting itself. Everyone was pleasant, and you could easily go through this one without talking to anyone or learning about any of the wines. We tasted a couple chardonnays, a sauvignon blanc, a couple very nice cabs, and a delightful take on eiswein (Eisrébe). Instead of the grapes naturally freezing they artificially freeze them after harvest to create the sweet, concentrated flavor. We split the tasting (I love that they give you that option – not unique to Phelps) and found it to be a good value for the variety of wines we tasted. The staff was knowledgeable and helpful if you could carve out a few minutes to speak with them. Walked away from this one seriously contemplating an expensive bottle of cab, but settled on a bottle of Eisrébe. Appointment only, self-paced, not super relaxing but still a nice overall experience.