Napa Overload!

Alright, this is going to be a long one… Napa was amazing! I’m already counting the days until we can go back again. But this is going to take a while so sit back and relax… (Also, don’t mind the crappy photos, I was having some issues with my iPhone camera while we were there).

So I tried not to make too many appointments at wineries since we only had one day to do Napa and one day to do Sonoma, and I didn’t want to feel rushed or on a tight schedule. I wanted to make sure we could play things by ear and get recommendations from people etc. Which we did and worked out amazing because one of our favorite places we stopped was recommended over breakfast by a couple staying at the bed and breakfast with us. Speaking of… We stayed in the cutest bed and breakfast in downtown Napa: The Old World House. It is a privately owned bed and breakfast with three main buildings and a small cottage. There is breakfast served every morning, dessert every night and a cocktail hour in the evenings. The breakfasts were amazing! Each day was a different egg white soufflé of some sort with coffee, juice and pastries. The owner stopped by during breakfast on our first morning to say hello and he filled us in on the egg white secret: after serving carb and fat heavy breakfasts early on, the guests would come back from tasting wine all day feeling sick. But when they switched to egg white based dishes, their guests came back feeling fine! And after two days of wine, I can attest that their theory works! So on to the wine!

Domaine Chandon

First off, the grounds here are absolutely beautiful!



We were hoping to make it in time for the tour, but unfortunately it was filled by the time we got there. So we went straight up to the tasting room, which is a beautiful glass room with a small outdoor patio that looks over their grounds. It was packed, but we ended up with a wonderful tasting assistant who was very excited that we were newlyweds. We did the reserve tasting and then were able to sample a few extras!

Reserve Blanc de Blancs $35 – Soft and smooth with tiny bubbles with fresh notes of pear and apples. A perfect breakfast champagne with hints of vanilla and almond. (3/5 stars)

Reserve Brut $35 – Creamy and savory with soft bubbles and notes of toasted nuts, dark fruits, apple and vanilla. (3/5)

Reserve Pinot Noir Rose $35 – Peach Belini in color. Tiny bubbles with notes of subtle strawberry, cherry and raspberry. Dry and crisp with a fine mousse and a light, clean strawberry finish. (4/5)

Yountville Vintage Brut, 2007, Late Disgorged $45 – Full bodied and elegant with notes of dried fruits, toasted almonds, vanilla and creamy yeast. I absolutely love the autolysis characteristic in this wine!  (4/5)

Sparkling Red $30 – 60% Pinot Noir and %40 Zinfandel, it has all the aromas of a full-bodied red wine with notes of strawberry and raspberry. The bubbles are light and crisp with baked and sweet fruit notes, with a delicate and balanced sweet finish. (4/5)

Chandon was only our first stop and we walked away with three bottles, two glasses and a wine club membership! We bought two bottles of the Sparkling Red and a bottle of the Late Disgorged.  We had some time before our appointment at Robert Sinskey so we stopped by Pine Ridge which was right down the street.

Pine Ridge

It was a slow day at Pine Ridge, which worked out well for us. The tasting assistant was chatty and heavy-handed. She had no problems offering us as many samples as we wanted! I didn’t take any pictures because we were so busy chatting, but Pine Ride should definitely be known for more than just their Chenin/Viognier blend!

2012 Dijon Clones Chardonnay $34 – Soft and creamy with aromas of white flowers, caramel, and green apple. The palate is smooth with notes of vanillin oak, nutmeg and cream.  (3/5)

2012 Le Petit Clos Chardonnay $65 – Fresh aromas of Meyer lemons, nectarines and orange blossom. The palate is fresh and bright with a crisp acidity balanced by notes of caramel, cinnamon, and cream. (3/5)

2008 Tessitura $60 – Soft aromas of ripe cherry and raspberry are balanced by smooth earthy notes. Very St. Emilion in style – light in body with some soft earth and mushroom funk balanced by notes of vanilla, cola and nutmeg. (4/5)

2011 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon $100 – Blackberry and spice aromas lead to a soft palate of black pepper, blackcurrant and cherry. Hints of cassis and cinnamon toast are balanced with silky tannins. (4/5)

2012 Napa Valley Cabernet $54 – Soft but fragrant with notes of raspberry, blackberry, cassis and dried violets. The palate offers complex flavors of juicy cherry and plum with a hint of vanilla, black pepper spice and soft tannins. (3/5)

Pine Ridge was the only place we didn’t walk away with any wine from, and I regret it! I still think about that Tessitura! I love St Emilion, so it’s exciting to find that style in Napa! Finally we’re off to our appointment at Robert Sinskey. I’ve been a huge fan of RSV for years, so I was so excited to do their Perfect Circle Tour.

Robert Sinskey Vineyards

Robert Sinskey Vineyards

Robert Sinskey Vineyards

We got there a few minutes early so we got to sample some wine before the tour started and chat with the tasting assistant for a bit. The vineyard is beautiful! They have their own garden, and their own goats to graze the vineyards. The tour starts out in the garden with a sample of the Abraxas – a white blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Blanc, and some fresh figs right off the tree!

Fig Tree at RSV

Fig Tree at RSV

Their garden is small, but beautiful with pumpkins, fresh herbs, tomatoes and figs!

Husband doing some sampling

Husband doing some sampling

After the garden stop, we walked around back where a truck was pouring Pinot Noir grapes into the distemmer. We were then poured a sample of Pinot Noir that had been fermenting for just 24 hours!


Fresh picked Pinot Noir grapes from their Carneros Vineyard


The freshest wine I’ve ever tasted! Besides actual grapes of course.. Also, let’s talk about how awesome my nails still look almost an entire week later! 

There were still pieces of skin and stems in the glass. After this, we headed into the cellar…


.. and by cellar, I mean heaven!


Only a few barrels fell over during the earthquake, but almost no wine was lost!

IMG_8429 IMG_8430 IMG_8433 After walking through the maze of barrels, we stopped at the most beautiful table I have ever seen. If I could plan my wedding over again, I would hold it in these caves, at this table:



They walls were lined with shelves of their finest vintages, all held in place by wires. No bottles were broken during the earthquake!

Especially since this is where they poured us something amazing: 1999 Three Amigos Chardonnay. I still don’t know why I didn’t buy a bottle (or 10). After meandering back outside, they set us up at a beautiful farmhouse table with more wine and a platter of cheese and meats.

All made on site: Gougers with Grana Padano, Gruyere & RSV Garden Herbs Roasted Almonds with RSV Garden Herbs McEvoy Ranch Olives with Toasted Fennel Seed RSV Garden Corn and Proscuitto Tartlets RSV Garden Plum Jam

Gougers with Grana Padano, Gruyere & RSV Garden Herbs, Roasted Almonds with RSV Garden Herbs, McEvoy Ranch Olives with Toasted Fennel Seed, RSV Garden Corn and Proscuitto Tartlets, RSV Garden Plum Jam, Proscuitto, Fra’Mani Nostrano Salami, Willoughby cheese from Jasper Hill Farm and Bellwether Farm’s Pepato

They left us alone to enjoy our snacks but gave us their cookbook with some amazing recipes in it that I seriously cannot wait to try!

2012 Pinot Blanc $22/375ml – Spicy pear and citrus notes with a tropical fruit finish. Fruity and light with a crisp acidity and delicate hint of sweetness on the finish. (3/5)

2012 Pinot Gris $32 – Full-flavored but crisp with notes of pineapple, citrus and tropical fruits. The palate is fresh and light with a tropical finish. (3/5)

2012 Abraxas, Vin de Terroir, Scintilla Sonoma Vineyard, Los Carneros $36 – Fresh and light with notes of stone fruits, white flowers and citrus. There are hints of tropical fruits and pear balanced by spice on the long finish. (4/5)

1999 Chardonnay, Three Amigos Vineyard, Los Carneros $103 – Beautiful nose with full and rich aromas of caramel, toffee, vanilla and baked tropical fruits. The palate is soft with a delicate notes of vanilla cream. I am going to be dreaming of this wine for many years to come… (5/5)

2011 Pinot Noir, Los Carneros, Napa Valley $38 – Strawberry, cherry aromas lead to a palate of baked fruits. Soft and balanced with a little earth and a little spice. (4/)

2008 Marcien, Los Carneros, Napa Valley $90 – A Bordeaux blend with dark berries, earth and spice. A little mushroom/barnyard funk but balanced with soft fruit notes. (4/5)

2009 SLD Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa $100 – Blended with 20% Merlot, this was big and rich with earthy notes of mushroom, black pepper and spice with a balanced note of dark fruits. (4/5)

After leaving Robert Sinskey’s, we stopped by Frog’s Leap. We didn’t have an appointment,  but we figured we would just stop by and see! The woman at the counter was very sweet and told us she could fit us in at a table that was reserved but that the couple was already 10 minutes late. If they came, we would have to stand because there weren’t any more tables available. Well luckily the couple never showed, because we were sat at the most perfect table! Frogs Leap’s tasting room is a beautiful farm house with a gorgeous porch that looks over their gardens. The table we were given was right at the base of the porch steps, with a perfect view.

Frog’s Leap Estate

Seriously, it doesn't get much better than this!

Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than this!

Except for maybe this..

Except for maybe this..

and this.. :)

and this.. 🙂

It was extra hot out, which was fine, since we came home to Fall.. but it was absolutely beautiful at Frogs Leap! We tasted through six of their wines and walked away with a few bottles of course..

2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford $22 – Light and easy with fresh grapefruit, peach and pear notes. A fresh acidity is balanced on the long finish. (3/5)

2012 Chardonnay, Napa Valley $30 – Crisp and bright with green apple, mineral and vanilla. Light bodied with a smooth, clean finish. (3/5)

2012 Zinfandel, Napa Valley $30 – Fruit forward with notes of cherry, boysenberry and spice. Hints of spicy oak are balanced on the soft finish. (3/5)

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford $52 – Structured with full notes of cassis, earth and blackberry. Hints of sage and cedar are balanced by notes of earth and spice. The finish is dry with firm but balanced tannins. (4/5)

2012 Heritage Blend Rutherford $40 – Soft and fruity palate with an earthy nose. Balanced and smooth with delicate earth, black pepper spice and blackberry. (4/5)

We headed north to hit one more winery before the day was done: Orin Swift. A small tasting room in downtown St. Helena, I’d been excited to try some wines from Orin. He is formally the producer of The Prisoner and Saldo, but after he sold these labels, i haven’t been able to find any other wines from him, at least on the East Coast! I didn’t take any pictures there, since it’s just a small shop in town, but the wines were phenomenal!

Orin Swift

2013 China Doll, California Rose $19 – Fruit forward with strawberry and raspberry notes. Light acidity with a soft, balanced finish. (3/5)

2013 Veladora, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley $28 – Fresh and clean but medium-bodied with flavors of sweet grapefruit and green apple. (4/5)

2012 Abstract Grenache with some Petite Sirah and Syrah, California $75/1.5L – Soft and elegant. Lots of caramel, vanillin oak and creamy flavors. Very smooth. (3/5)

2012 Trigger Finger 100% Grenache, California $38 – Bright fruit notes of raspberry and blackberry. Soft palate with some vanillin oak, but not as rich and creamy as Abstract. (4/5)

2011 Papillon Red Blend, Napa Valley $156/1.5L – Cabernet, Melot, Petit Verdot and Malbec blend. Bright fruit flavors of strawberry and cherry with dry tannins and a hint of sweet vanilla. (3/5)

2012 Machete Petite Sirah, California $48 – Dry with soft notes of blackberry, cherry and black raspberry. Firm but smooth tannins. (3/5)

Muté California Dessert Wine $30 – 70% Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich, ruby with notes of cassis, blackberry, plum jam and cherry. Notes of sweet berries are balanced by hints of toffee, caramel and vanilla. Think port, but not ruby and not quite towny. (4/5)

So that brings a close to our Napa Wine tour.. After Orin Swift, we headed back to the Inn to get ready for dinner at Morimoto! I also only made one dinner reservation for the trip, hoping for the same: good recommendations from people. But Morimoto has such great reviews, and such interesting food so we had to go. And hoooooly crap! So much food! We were seated next to another young couple (she lives in town, he lives in Austin, they used to date but are trying to work things out), they raved and raved about how great the tasting menu was so we said screw it and joined them on the journey! They were more than halfway through when we got there, so we didn’t get a sneak peak of all the courses ahead of time, and they left before we could thank them: we ordered the tasting menu and decided to forgo the wine pairing with it, but Bridget and her friend ordered us one pairing secretly! We didn’t know it was them until the end of the meal! (Our hotel said to mention where we were staying because they offer “treat” and when I booked the reservation online I mentioned it was our honeymoon, so I didn’t think it would’ve been them!) But I ate some of the most interesting food I have ever had in my life. I had no idea what most of it was the entire time, so I asked our server to print me a copy of the menu if he could. But unfortunately their printer was broken, so he emailed it to me the next morning. So here goes…

Toro Tartare with Wasabi, Nori Paste, Sour Cream
Paired with Ruinart Brut Rose Champagne, Reims France

Kanpachi Carpaccio with Hot Oil, Garlic, Chives, Ginger Paired with: Darioush Viognier, Napa Valley 2012

Kanpachi Carpaccio with Hot Oil, Garlic, Chives, Ginger
Paired with Darioush Viognier, Napa Valley 2012


Bagna Cauda – Garlic, Anchovy, Local Vegetable

Paired with Patz & Hall ‘Dutton Ranch’chardonnay, Russian River 2010

Whoops.. I ate this one before I snapped a picture... Gulf Red Snapper with Meyer Lemon Nage, Charred Scallions, Crispy Burdock Root Paired with Qupe Rhone Blend, Russian River 2012

Whoops.. I ate this one before I snapped a picture…
Gulf Red Snapper with Meyer Lemon Nage, Charred Scallions, Crispy Burdock Root
Paired with Qupe Rhone Blend, Russian River 2012

..This one too Agedashi Tofu Raw And Shaved Asparagus, Blood Orange, Parmesan, Sweet Soy Sauce Paired with Hudson Aleatico, Napa Valley 2012

..This one too
Agedashi Tofu Raw And Shaved Asparagus, Blood Orange, Parmesan, Sweet Soy Sauce
Paired with Hudson Aleatico, Napa Valley 2012

Sushi: Chef’s Choice
Morimoto Junmai Ginjo Sake, Ishikawa

Surf And Turf And Turf Pork Belly, Flat Iron Wagyu, Angry Shrimp Paired with Revival Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2008 and Lioco Carignan, Mendocino 2010

Surf And Turf And Turf
Pork Belly, Flat Iron Wagyu, Angry Shrimp
Paired with Revival Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2008 and Lioco Carignan, Mendocino 2010

White Chocolate Lime Ganache, Coconut Foam, Mango Sorbet Paired withJohn Anthony Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Carneros 2011

White Chocolate Lime Ganache, Coconut Foam, Mango Sorbet
Paired withJohn Anthony Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Carneros 2011

Sorry about the crappy photos, but woah was that a delicious meal! I don’t know enough about food to truly understand half of what I ate, but I would certainly go back and try again! So that’s the Napa update! We actually walked around downtown Napa and checked out some of the earthquake damage, but this post was getting a little overloaded, so i’ll fill you in on that during the Sonoma update! Oh yes, that’s right, the honeymoon posts aren’t even half over yet!

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