Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Highlights of a Friday Night Wine Tasting at JV Wine & Spirits

It seems like everyone in Napa has discovered the Friday Night Wine Tastings at JV Wine & Spirits. Why are they so popular with the local folk? 1. Something to do in Napa on a Friday night; 2. $10 for all the food and wine they can consume; 3. Packed, fun atmosphere that feels like they are at a party in a big city.

At the recent tasting that I've attended, the theme was "Big Reds." I only went because it was rumored that Orin Swift's The Prisoner was going to be poured. Alas, it was not but there were other great wines being poured that night.

Upon arrival, I immediately headed to the "best" wine - an '06 Opus One It was a good wine but it just didn't have that wow factor that wines in this price range ($160) usually have - think Signorello's Padrone ($110). Could it have been that it was too young? I remember when I did a fabulous vertical Opus One tasting in LA in '08 and the youngest vintage was an '02. However, the '06 paired very well with the grilled sausage being served that night.

An '07 Lang & Reed Cab Franc. Not a bad wine for $20. It faded a bit on the palate but again a good price for a CA Cab Franc (why are they so expensive? I was just in Kermit Lynch looking for French Cab Francs and they were so much cheaper overall.)

My favorite wine that night: an '07 Peter Franus Napa Valley Zinfandel. Insanely good and an excellent food wine! This is the ultimate Zin to be paired with bbq sauce (we were served little cocktail wienies with bbq sauce) and the wine tasted as equally good with the tri-tip sandwich with garlic aioli. This wine retails for about $24. (Next to the Peter Franus is a bottle of 2006 Cade Napa Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon: young, expensive, and high in alcohol but oh so yummy to drink!)

You probably think that I liked the Peter Franus just because it was a Zin. Not true, Dear Reader, as the next wine was my least favorite: an '06 Alexander Valley Vineyards Redemption Zinfandel. There was so much eucalyptus on the nose and palate that it actually tasted horrible with the aforementioned wienies and tri-tip. I've had their Temptation Zin (and they make a very nice Rose) before and actually found it to be a fairly good food wine (goes better with vegetable based Italian dishes rather than meat based Italian dishes) so I had higher expectations of this wine.

Another great wine: an '02 Cerretto Barolo Zoncherra.

This retails for almost $60 but you are paying for the aging. I've noticed that the current release, an '04, retails for about half that much but then you might want to age it for a few more years because the '02 was really smooth and balanced. Great food wine, especially with Italian.

Someone get me a Cab, please!

Everyone was oohing and ahhing over the Chimney Rock Tomahawk Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Not bad but I preferred the plain old Stags Leap District Cab (who knows which vineyard?) For those of my Dear Readers who do not drink, Chimney Rock was the winery at which the judging of the finale of last season's Top Chef took place.

A fabulous peppery Cab from a ghost winery that you'll be glad was resurrected: an '06 Liparita Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon (they also produce an Oakville Cab). What really impressed me about this wine is how it stood up to the Salt & Pepper Kettle Chips (ok, these didn't really belong at a red wine tasting but they were put out late and so I decided to do a little experimenting with pairings) which would have most likely eviscerated most of the wines at the tasting. It would appear to me that the Liparita could be paired with some atypical foods that one wouldn't think of pairing with a big red.

Hoopes not only gets my vote for a great Cab but it has the cutest label ever! This was the last wine that I tasted that night and even though I had severe palate fatigue, I loved this wine! It was really rich and complex. Oakville AVA. I've recently perused their website and I think that there might be a Screaming Eagle sort of thing going on (and perhaps a well deserved Screaming Eagle thing) so buy this wine now before you have to pay $6K to obtain a bottle.

JV Wine & Spirits

Opus One

Lang & Reed

Peter Franus

Cade Winery

Alexander Valley Vineyards

Chimney Rock Winery


Hoopes Vineyard

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Blogger Daphne said...

Great review, BV! I'll have to check JV out (or rather, I'll have to go over there when I know the tasting bar is actually open :-)

12:18 PM

Anonymous Raven said...

All the food and wine you want for $10? I'm so there... or I would be if it were in my neck of the woods. :(

8:36 PM

Anonymous Bon Vivant said...

@Daphne: yes, getting there when it's open has been a challenge.

@Raven: the wines featured in the blog post don't even represent 1/3 of the total wines being poured that night. Napa wine tastings are known for being very expensive so $10 to taste 30 wines is an amazing price.

10:02 PM

Anonymous Raven said...

I really need to get to Napa... Did they know you were blogging about the wines? I caught that one shot where the guy's holding the wine for you to take a pic.

10:05 PM

Anonymous Dmitri Markine said...

Some excellent wine choices!

9:00 PM

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