Saturday, June 26, 2010

Napa 2010 Day 5

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A day of old favorites today. We started at our favorite winery in the whole valley, Frank Family Vineyards. We order FF's wines mail order by the case and guess what: a case is on the way back east now. Unfortunately FF now charges for the tastings with $10 and $25 options (like many other places), but since we are on the mailing list, and had visited so often before (4 times), they gave us the reserve tasting complimentary (shhhhhh). I can't express how much we enjoy FF wines, and you know you're in Gigi's club if we serve you FF at home.

Last time we visited Napa, I signed up for one wine club, unfortunately it cost $800/year. Eventually I came to my senses (Wifey forced me) and cancelled my membership, but Von Strasser's wines taste so good, and we had such nice experiences meeting Rudy the owner/winemaker, and Mark the GM, we had to come back. Even without a reservation, they took us on a tour of the caves, an exceptional treat considering the 92 degree heat today (a nice, cool dry heat for all you suffering in NJ humidity). Von Strasser specializes in Cabernet Sauignon, making many single vineyard wines, but we bought their dry blush, the one white they make (Grüner Veltliner, a shout out to Rudy Von Strasser's Austrian heritage), and a bottle (375ml) of their Petit Verdot Port. Only Bill's club members get the port so really have to be in the know to get some.

After the last time we came to Napa, I got a t-shirt, the back of which reads, "I survived the drive to Pride." Now having driven the drive twice, I say I earned it. Pride sits atop Spring Mountain, and their vineyards flow down the mountain into both Napa and Sonoma. Besides the excellent Vionier (got one) Pride's has GREAT picnic areas. Before starting out for the day we went to Trader Joes, and got some salads, sandwiches, and cheese; then we ate a great lunch looking out over the valley vineyards (above)

Finally, we stopped at Domaine Chandon, my favorite sparking producer. Chandon's tasting room doesn't offer any of the privacy or specialness of any of the vineyards we've been to this year, however they make good sparking wine. Aside: I don't say champagne since you can't call bubbly champagne unless it was made in Champagne, France, even if the winemaker makes it via the same technique (methode champenoise). Fortunately Chandon distributes widely (get some Étoile, its cheaper in NJ than here), but we bought a vineyard only Rosé of Pinot Noir.

Only Asta Club members get wines we bring home from vacation. So now you know all the 352 Club levels.

For dinner tonight we went back into Napa City and ate outside at Ristorante Allegria, a very nice Northern Italian restaurant.

Places Visited:
Frank Family
Von Strasser
Pride Mountain Vineyards
Domaine Chandon
Ristorante Allegria

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