Day 2: Three Perfect Days in Napa and Sonoma Valley

This is Day 2 of our recent wine tour to the Napa and Sonoma wine regions.


One our second day of tasting we made our way a bit North towards St. Helena and Calistoga before heading back into Napa. Here are the highlights.

Cade. This is a sister winery to Plumpjack and they also make very good Cabernet Sauvignon. The tasting is $10 per person, which was a steal considering the exceptionally good wine, the scenic view from the hills above Napa Valley, and the beautiful, modern tasting room. We both enjoy softer, drier Sauvignon Blancs rather than the acidic, citrusy style, and their 2008 Sauvignon Blanc was right on the mark for us. Their 2006 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was a classic Cab with dense, complex fruit on the mouth and wonderful soft tannins that will go nicely with food.

Cuvaison. We had to visit Cuvaison because they consistently make some of our favorite wines, their Pinot Noir was the winner of our recent 'Pinot-palooza' challenge, and they have a new tasting room in Calistoga to boot. Let's just say we started the day as members of only one wine club (Wattle Creek) and are now members of two. Here are our highlights from Cuvaison:
  • 2008 S Block Chardonnay. We recently drank the 2006 version and 2008 really holds up with a nice balance of buttery oak and light acidity.
  • 2007 Diablo Syrah. This is a very balanced Syrah that has a rather earthy taste throughout.
  • 2007 Block F5 Pinot Noir. This may just be the Pinot to take the next Pinot-palooza title. Nice, delicate fruit and an earthy finish that works before, during, and after food.
  • 2006 Brandlin Vineyard Zinfandel. Strong fruit upfront (and butterscotch?!) with a subtle pepper finish. This will be versatile with a lot of food -- a great pick to bring to a restaurant.
  • 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Big fruit, big tannins, sticks to your teeth without blasting you with alcohol. Yum.
Foile a Deux. Their wine is all very drinkable, and their 'Menage a Trois' table wines are an outstanding buy. Their Menage a Trois red lists for $12, but we've seen it for as low as $6.99 a bottle. It makes for a great mid-week wine to go with all sorts of dinner.

Robert Biale Vineyards. The previous night we hung out in Silos Jazz Club for some wine and jazz. Keith, the manager, has a good eye for local wine and he introduced us to Robert Biale's "Black Chicken" Zinfandel. As the story goes, "Black Chicken" was code for Zinfandel during Prohibition when Aldo Biale took orders over their party line and didn't want the neighbors to know he was selling alcohol. It's a fun story and a fun wine. (Be sure to make an appointment if you visit.) They also feature other great Zins and a few other varietals.

Barbeque and wine go together like peas in a pod, and the Bounty Hunter in downtown Napa does it right. It's a bit funky - their small room is part restaurant, part wine bar, and part wine shop all in one space, but it works. Come prepared to make some new friends, taste some wine, and have some awesome BBQ. (Their beer can chicken is quite the sight to see -- the whole bird comes out sitting on a beer can.)