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Untangled Vine

An attempt to sort through all things wine. Specifically of, and about, but not limited to: Food and Wine in Toledo, Ohio. Plus the day to day musings of a Wine Distributor...

Napa Valley Day 2, part 2

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Peter Thompson led us up a long and twisty road, it reminded me of the time, 2 years ago, that I rode up Spring Mountain with the Henry Wine Group SoCal divison, and got so carsick that I booted right next to the VP of the company. Damn You Ford Windstar! Your bad shocks, and top heaviness, caused me to miss the afternoon at Cain (along with being overserved the previous evening) but that’s a different story. Today we were riding to the top of Diamond Mountain, to one of the highest elevation vineyards in the whole region. We already knew Peter Thompson from Andrew Geoffrey was putting out some world class Cabs, but we of course had to take a look at this remote vineyard ourselves. Armed with some beautiful steaks, cheeses breads, etc, Peter hooked it up! With what had to be the most breathtaking view of the visit., 1800ft elevation on a clear day, pretty much gives you the lay of the land. We could see just about every vineyard in the Northern Half of the Valley from one vantage point. A truly spectacular day! But let me mention the wines. Andrew Geoffrey makes one wine, Cabernet. It is blended with all of the usual suspects, and they do receive some
press, but I would just like to say this: press can’t do these wines justice. Their deep, rich tannins, and unending complexity make me think of only one other producer from this region, and at a lower elevation, only Diamond Creek has made wines of
this style. The only difference is the fact that Andrew Geoffrey wines show better young. The vines were planted around 1997, so within a few vintages, they should really start showing their stuff. It seems that 10 years is what Cab needs to peak, which is an almost unimaginable statement having tasted 3rd-5th leaf of these wines.

The rest of the day was spent visiting some potential new producers, and the competition being what it is, they shall remain secret for the time being.

Napa Valley Day 2, part 1

Ballentine has a storied and rich history in the Napa Valley. In fact, they are celebrating 100th anniversary this year. Originating as the Pocai Family, the winery has fluctuated back and forth between Pocai and Ballentine for the better part of the last 80 years, and Pocai Vineyard is still providing some of the best zin grapes around. Van (Ballentine) and Betty (Pocai) have been the embodiment of these 2 families coming together. Van has worked over 60 harvests in Napa Valley, and certainly knows where all the bodies are buried. As we tasted through just about everything you can imagine, we were amazed at the breadth of the wines. My 2 favs were undoubtedly the 05 Chenin Blanc, which has got to be the best example of this grape I’ve ever seen in the US (they used to supply most of Chappelet’s production, so don’t poo poo me), and the as yet unreleased, 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. Ballentine has always been known for their Zins, and the multiple examples were all impressive in a very noble and structured way. The inclusion of the best oak barrels (Gamba, among others) today, is helping to elevate this historic producer to newfound heights.

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