Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wine Weekend, Part III

Like most wineries, V. Sattui is picturesque. Point of fact, I don't recall ever seeing a winery that wasn't picturesque. I think it's a law. But V. Sattui really is gorgeous - the main building that houses the winery is modeled after an Italian villa, complete with a courtyard dominated by a huge fountain. The tasting room is in a different building and in between are picnic grounds, where we were going to have our lunch.

First on the agenda, however, was a tour of the grounds by one of the winery staff. He took us out to the vineyards, showed us what it looks like when one rootstock is grafted onto a different variety (like most of the Napa vineyards, V. Sattui had its battle with phylloxera, that nasty little insect that feeds on grape roots). The weather was beautiful, the guide informative, but I started getting hot standing in the sun and was more than ready when we went inside to taste some Carsi chardonnay straight out of a stainless steel vat. Like many of the others on the tour (Gayle being an exception), I'm mainly a red wine drinker, but the Carsi was delicious. It was fruity and buttery at the same time. Gayle and I immediately agreed that we'd take a bottle of it home with us.

Next stop was the tasting room, where our group bellied up to and behind the tasting bar, which ran the length of the building. Greg joined me and Gayle, and somehow the three of us ended up with an extra glass, a fact that went unnoticed by our guide. So we got an extra pour of all the wines that we shared between us, depending on whether we liked the wine being poured. I didn't dislike any of them, but some, such as the Duarte Old Vines Zinfandel and that Carsi Chardonnay, were standouts. The Angelica, a fortified Muscat, was also delicious. We decided we needed a bottle of each of those, along with a bottle of the 2002 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet for Billy. The Morisoli can only be purchased at the winery and Billy likes big, lush cabernets, so it seemed like a good thank-you gift.

We had lunch outside at the picnic tables. Platters of pate, meat, cheese, bread and fruit were spread out for us, and a choice of white or red wine (if memory serves me correctly -- and it might not -- the wines were a Sauvignon Blanc and a Merlot) to go with the meal. Most of us had a little of each. Diets were not a concern on this trip so Gayle and I filled our plates with food and dug in. Gotta lay the base if you're gonna drink, after all. I'd say we both laid a pretty solid base, including some excellent chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Stuffed on good food and wine, the group got back on the bus and we headed for our next stop: Quintessa.

Known exclusively for big, heavy Bordeaux blends, Quintessa lies in the Rutherford appellation of Napa and 'includes a valley, a lake, a river, five hills, four microclimates and various soil types.' It's a vineyard with a view, but it looks more like a military installation than a winery. I kept expecting armed guards appear. Some of the group went to look at the workings of the winery, while the rest of us went on a mini-hike up a hill to see the view. The guide told us that the owners used soil sensitive agricultural practices, including burying cow horns and then digging them up on specific days (I want to say summer solstice, but my notes are spotty and my handwriting lousy!) to make powder for fertilizer.

We went to the tasting room, where Robert and the rest of the group were already settled in with wine. The tasting room reminded me of a hotel lobby. We tasted the 1998 and 2001 vintages. Interestingly, while the 2001 was more immediately drinkable, the '98 was OH so good...When you think Quintessa, think big. Think lush. Think...yummy!

The last stop of the day was Cline. We arrived too late to do any shopping (a disappointment to the Henry gals, who are known for their shopping prowess), but had some nummy Hors de oeuvres (ahi on some sort of thin savory cracker) and did some barrel tasting before going into dinner. Oh, that dinner...The appetizer was scallops and clams in a clam sauce served in a clamshell, paired with a Viognier. Dinner was rack of lamb served with a delicious Mourvedre, one of my favorite wines. An Old Vine Zinfandel was also poured, and then a dessert wine, a Late Harvest Zin, to go with an apricot tart. Very good, very rich. Too rich for me. The only downside of Cline was that we couldn't buy any of the wine - they weren't set up to sell after the tasting room was closed. And I would definitely have taken some of the Mourvedre home with me.

Despite a brief argument between my stomach and dessert (my stomach lost) upon reaching the hotel, I was up for some time in the hot tub. Gayle and I joined Kevin, Greg, Roger and Jan in a hot tub that made me sympathize with lobsters. I went for a swim in the pool - the water felt like warm silk after the heated cauldron of a jacuzzi. A perfect end to Day Number One.

To be continued...


  • At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I remember years ago seeing the Almeden winery and thinking it looked like a refinery.

  • At 5:20 PM, Blogger Other Lisa said…

    where's my Quintessa??? MMMMMMM......yummy.....

  • At 8:25 AM, Blogger zhadi said…

    Quintessa WAS yummy...but OH so expensive...I think it started at 80 bucks a bottle or something like that. Worth it, if you have the cash.

  • At 10:50 AM, Blogger Other Lisa said…

    good god...eighty bucks a bottle???? At the winery? Yep, that's out of my price range...

    Ah well, I am hoping to be on Rafanelli's mailing list next year...


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