I just returned from the second of the two Grand Tastings held by Flavor Napa Valley. This gathering was held at the CIA, Greystone in St. Helena, on March 25. The Greystone building is situated slightly above the highway, on the bottom slopes of hills that rise into mountains bordering St. Helena. The massive, 19th-century, three-story stone building is impressive as it is, but even more so on the rise. Yet on this evening it was what awaited inside that took center stage.
This occasion offered a boundless array of exotic bites of cuisine, and some of Napa Valley’s best wine, especially Cabernet. Food stations were intermixed with wine booths in the vast Barrel Room on the second floor of the Greystone building, and also on the third floor which housed seemingly boundless teaching kitchens. If anyone thought they could patronize all the purveyors of food and wine that evening, think again! I did not come close, even though I tried mightily. The diversity and quality of the offerings from the numerous restaurants and caterers was just as awesome. Just a few of the food purveyors were Angele Restaurant, Brasswood; Harvest Table, Lucy Restaurant & Bar, Nuri; PRESS Restaurant, Sam’s Social Club, Silverado Resort & Spa, Tarla Mediterranean Bar & Grill, The Farm at Carneros, and The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil. The servers and chefs representing these establishments were eager to discuss their offerings also.
My Tasting Notes
91, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lateral, 2013, Napa Valley, $50 This is a blend of 66% Merlot and 34% Cabernet Franc from Marty Mathis, the winemaker at Kathryn Kennedy Winery. Dark pilums and blackberries on the palate. Deep ruby in color, the blend of grapes for this wine was inspired by Château Cheval Blanc in Saint-Émilion, France. The wine has a precise feel with great balance and delineation. Medium-weight with a touch of elegance. Well managed tannins, a fine-grained texture, and just the right intensity.
91, Cabernet Sauvignon, Eleven Eleven, Laki’s Vineyard, Napa Valley, 2014, $125 Ruby-purple in color. This medium-light-weight 2014 is impressive in its seamless construction and smooth texture. A floral note dominates the aroma with blackberries and dark cherries on the palate. The acid level provides lift, and the purity of the quality fruit is clear. This is an elegant and well-constructed Cabernet.
89, Cabernet Sauvignon, Walis, Little Sister Propriety Red, Diamond Mountain, Napa Valley, 2010, $65 Ruby-purple in color, this is a blend of 97.5 % Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2.5 % Petit Verdot. A nice vein of acidity gives lift. This medium-light weight wine lies between lean and fleshy at seven years of age. Intense, dark, spicy estate fruit.
89, Cabernet Sauvignon blend, Yao Family Wines, Napa Valley, 2014, $85 This Cabernet produced by retired professional basketball player Yao Ming, is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 3% Cab Franc and 2% Petite Verdot, and spent 18 months in 65% new French oak. Medium ruby in color, boasts a fruity style and is light in weight. Has intensity of character and shows some polish.