Category Archives: California

2011 Neyers Vendimia Vineyard Chardonnay

2011 Neyers Vendimia Vineyard Chardonnay

colonelgrape: 75. I had a tough time with this wine. When we tasted it at the vineyard I remember enjoying it however at home it just fell flat for me. It had strong notes of melon but it wasn’t vibrant and fresh enough for my taste. I usually like Chablis, White Burg, and some young unoaked California chardonnay but this one was just a little too much. It was too long and complex for my liking. It wasn’t a bad, I think it falls somewhere in-between for those who like a little oak on their chardonnay but to me it was just another chard.

MobyGrape: 84. I’ve never had a lightly buttered piece of fruit before, but I imagine if I did it would taste something like this.  It wasn’t too oaky, but at the same time it did have a sort of vanilla smoothness to it that I enjoyed.  It wasn’t too fruity, but it had a melony quality to it that was nice and didn’t taste like piss.  Neither quality was overpowering or lingered in an uncomfortable way.  I’d call it just right if you don’t want something that’s too far out on either end of the spectrum.  It’s Goldie Chardonnay!

We did have an excellent meal though…pan seared scallops with pasta in a white wine, butter, and garlic sauce. There are two school of thought when using wine in cooking: Some prefer to use wine that you would drink thinking it imparts a better flavor while some say use cheap wine. It may be true you might get slightly more complex flavor using better wine I don’t think it’s worth it. I stay away from $2 buck chuck but I use what I can find for around $7-9 and it works just fine. Cook with the swill and drink the good stuff.

\Pan Seared Scallops

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Redd Napa Valley

Napa redd decor

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.

http://reddnapavalley.com/

Tres Sabores Winery

tres sabores 1tres sabores moose

Simply put: Wow. This is what I want in a wine tasting. It’s well off the beaten path which we liked and when we pulled up the wine maker/owner, Julie, and her husband were having lunch outside which they promptly offered us and it was all delicious. Gorgeous view, they had tables set up and shade with big trees covered a perfect picnic spot. We chatted with Julie, her husband, and our guide for a good while. They have 2 gorgeous golden retrievers that were incredibly friendly, one (Moose, seen above) even has his own business card as a public relations employee which was too funny. We had a few wines, then took some back to the farm area where they had sheep, hens, and baby hens. We fed the sheep some bread, tried some Zin off the vine, checked out their garden full of fruit and veggies, as well as tons of pomegranate trees planted all over the property. We went into their wine cave and watched some workers cleaning barrels. A very intimate setting, personal tour, lots of information and good conversation. The wine was fantastic…we liked all of it. Our friends bought some Zin while we got the Rose and Por Que No….a blend of just about everything. Cab, merlot, zin, petite syrah…weird sounding but very delicious. We had packed a nice lunch and Julie was happy to let us stay and enjoy our picnic. She even brought over some chocolate to enjoy with the petite syrah. Overall this was head and shoulders our best experience in Napa and an absolute must see. We will definitely be going back next time we’re in Napa. Tres Sabores is appointment only so call ahead and bring lunch!

http://www.tressabores.com/

Vincent Arroyo Winery

bodega

Our innkeeper recommended this for us at breakfast and squeezed us in late afternoon and wow, this place was awesome. We met Vincent himself and one of his workers gave us a great tasting and tour, she was extremely nice and knowledgeable. They’d pour us a glass then we’d wander around learning/chatting, return for another glass, go see other things, etc. Very fun and all 1 on 1. They had two gorgeous and friendly winery dogs as well. Does life get any better than being a winery dog? I doubt it. We bought some petite syrah they had stashed in the back (lucky us), petite syrah port (very cool), and some cabernet sauvignon balsamic vinegar. It was interesting to experience the temperature difference in the valley being that much more north….much hotter. While it was all the way up in Calistoga and about an hour from downtown I think this is a must see place. They accept walk-ins but I would recommend making an appointment before driving all the way up the valley.

http://www.vincentarroyo.com/

Groth Vineyards

Groth building close

From reading the blog you know we drink Groth at home so we were excited about this one. Great architecture, an old Spanish style building. We were joined by friends from San Francisco which was fun. We had a table set up for us in their great room with glasses, info about the wine, and a nice view. We only got to try 4 wines which was different…most places served 6+. Our hostess was pleasant but her delivery seemed very rehearsed. It was more of a lecture than a conversation. She would pour a glass, give her talk, then let us enjoy privately which made the experience better. The wines were all good…sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, cab, and reserve cab. We did the 2 cabs side by side which was good because initially the regular cab was best then after 5 mins of air the reserve was clearly superior. This was more personal than Joseph Phelps but still kind of corporate feeling. I was able to wrangle a bottle of 2004 Cabernet from them at a reasonable price which was perfect because I was missing it for my vertical tasting at home. The reserve cab for $125 was very fairly priced and worth buying. We checked out their insect haven/garden afterwards which was interesting but not as impressive as they made it out to be. Overall a fun/different experience, it was good to see the more business like kind of tasting and something worth doing but I’d try to avoid more than 1 winery like this on a single trip. Between Groth and Phelps I thought Phelps was much prettier but the wine was better at Groth. Appointment only.

http://www.grothwines.com