Friday, March 31, 2017

Wine Country- Part III

Even though we were in bed by 8, we woke up tired...and a little hung over :)  I went to our hotel's breakfast and enjoyed an omelet and coffee (my vacation splurge) while Derek stayed in bed.  We all know Derek loves to have a good time...we also all know, Derek can't hang with the big kids the next day.  Luckily, he pulled himself together for our day of tastings.  

We started out at Silver Oak.



We did not have any experience with Silver Oak.  However, oakville is known as the best cabernets in the world.  The day before we were able to do some tastings at Groth, which is also in Oakville.  However, two main differences: 1) Silver Oak grows their grapes offsite (on a hillside) and also uses American Oak barrels to age their wine.  Silver Oak is also super expensive...probably the main reason we have never tried it, ha!  BUT, it is known as one of the best cabernets so I knew I wanted to make a stop in their tasting room.  AND, they are one of the only ones open at 9am, so I thought it made sense to get in as much tasting as possible, right?!

I was honestly worried about starting out our day with an oakville cab (the not-so-great tasting experience at Groth the day before had me nervous); however, the tasting here was so fantastic.  I can't even begin to explain how great these cabernets were.  So incredibly drinkable even though they were very young.  The hostess was awful (the worst of the entire trip), but the wine made up for it.  And because Derek was enjoying coffee while I was tasting, we had to purchase a bottle so he could someday try this amazing wine!

Fun Fact- Silver Oak only does cabernet.  And really only two types, one from Napa Valley and one from Alexander Valley (Sonoma county).  You can really tell how beneficial it is to concentrate all your efforts with their outstanding wine.  Surprisingly, I preferred the Alexander Valley.


Next up was Cakebread Cellars


We chose this stop because we heard amazing things about their tours.  We tried this wine once on a long layover at an airport.  Again, this wine is a splurge, but we wanted to check out their tour and try their wines again.

We arrived early because Silver Oak's hostess was so awful. Cakebread did not skip a beat and took us on a private tour.  I have to say that this place had wonderful whites.  As you can probably tell, we are red wine drinkers; however, I was thinking about purchasing a white here.  So delicious!



Because they also have tours and events that feature food, Cakebread has their own garden.  One fun things we tried was an oyster plant.  It literally tastes like an oyster on a half shell.


We learned a lot here while on our tour.  We also learned a good bit about tasting wine and how to characterize....something I want to get better at!

Next stop was Mustard's Grill

Again, another fantastic spot!  We tried their butternut soup, famous pork chop, and seafood tostada.  The food was absolutely delicious and hit the spot.

The next stop was Lewis Cellars.

We have never tried their wines.  In fact, not a lot of people (tourist) have even had tastings here because this is not a public winery.  We were asked how we got in by the locals...we had no idea this place was so exclusive!  We looked up the top wine of 2016 and Lewis Cellars had the #1 wine (according to Wine Spectator).  I called the winery and they said they could do a tasting for us on the day we were available.  Even though we had never tried their wines, we were very excited!

The tasting was very intimate.  We were able to try a handful of different wines and ask a lot of questions.  It was probably one of our shortest tastings and while the wine was not our favorite, we were glad we made the stop.  We purchased a bottle and cannot wait to age it and try it down the road.

Our last and final stop was Del Dotto in Napa.  This was the furthest we traveled down the valley.  We heard amazing things about this tour.  It is a complete cave tasting tour...meaning, you taste the wine straight out of the barrels the whole time.


It was a lot of fun but not exactly what I was expecting.  All the locals and reviews we read beforehand mentioned how much they give you for the tastings.  I was very careful and poured out my first 3 tastings after trying it because I was trying to pace myself.  However, there were only 2 more after that.  SO, I don't know if we came at the wrong time or what, but we certainly had more pours at other locations.  The wine was very good.  There was one other couple there from Chicago that we had a lot of fun talking with.  This was probably the least memorable tasting we had...not sure if it was because of the last stop or what.

Our tastings were all done for our trip.  Overall, I'm extremely happy with the ones we chose.  I cannot wait to go back and try all new ones!

That evening, we made a quick stop over at our favorite new wine shop, Wine Country Connection.  We wanted to meet the other partner, the master sommelier.  I have a newfound obsession with sommeliers and I wanted to pick his brain!

Fun Fact- In order to become a master sommelier, the last test you must identify 4 out of 6 wines correctly...as in the vintage, varietal (varieties), country, region/appellation, and quality.  Talk about impossible!!



Ah, our last dinner reservations were at The French Laundry.  We consider ourselves SO lucky to eat here!

We tried to make reservations before arriving and were put on the wait list.  After doing some reading, it is close to impossible to get reservations.  A good method is to have 4-5 people calling at the same time on the day reservations open to increase your chances of getting a hold of a reservation specialist.  That day (Tuesday), we received a phone call, we got in!  Derek and I were pretty giddy the rest of the day.  We couldn't wait to go and experience the meal!


We enjoyed:
1) Oyster and Pearls (Sabayon of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters an white sturgeon caviar)
2) Garden Kohlrabi Salad (Winter radishes, K&J orchards asian pears, brokaw avocado mousse and cilantro leaves)
3) Sautéed Fillet of Mediterranean John Dory (Slow roasted garden lettuces and black winter truffle emulsion)
4) Wild Scottish Langoustine Boudin (Toasted brioche, preserve meyer lemon, glazed cauliflower and creamy lobster broth)
5) Bread and Butter (Bitter cocoa laminated brioche and Diane St. Clair's animal farm butter)
6) Four Story Hill Farm Poularde (Hobbs' bacon, caramelized cipollini onions and braised garden collard greens)
7) Herb Roasted Elysian Fields Farm Lamb (Dark raisin marmalade, pearl onions, celery root confit, bitter lettuces and pinot noir sauce)
8) Gougere & Assortment of Desserts (fruit, ice cream, chocolate and candies)


Oh my goodness, we enjoyed ourselves!  The food was over-the-top ah-mazing.  We asked so many questions about the dishes.  They would explain it when the food came out and after trying it, we would get a flavor that was surprising or we didn't hear about when they first told us about the dish.  Loved this experience and I realize it will probably be a once in a lifetime :)

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1 comment:

Allison said...

Oh my gosh girl. This sounds like such an amazing trip!!! So jealous of all that amazing food (that looks like art) and all the wine you got to try!! I wouldn't even know what questions to ask about wine beyond the basics so I'm curious what you learned! What a fantastic trip. Glad you got to get away!