Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Wine Tasting

On saturday - i got up at an ungodly hour for a weekend morning (8am) - and got ready for our day of wine tasting in Napa. A group of 20 of us - boarded a small bus with a cooler full of champagne, wine and beer - and headed north.

Our first stop was Ravenswood - known for their reds. We were led on a tour of the vineyard by the winemaker - and then headed inside to barrel taste (if you ever wine taste - make sure you get to taste from the barrels - it's truly the best way to taste wine - the flavor is incredible) - we gathered around the barrels - tried 5 different wines - 1 white - 4 reds - learned the history of the winery - met the winery's resident cat - who's meowing echoed through the caves - awesome - and generally had a great time. A catered lunch followed in the garden over-looking the valley on one side and the vineyard on the other - truly a beautiful spot. Several people opened some of the bottles they had just purchased and we toasted to a great day.

After lunch - with it starting to rain - we made our way back inside the winery - several people made some more purchases - and then we again boarded the bus. We were a little tipsy - just mildly at this point - everyone was in a great mood - chatting - pouring wine and champagne - handing filled glasses to the people in the rear of the bus.

We arrived at Tantalus - a small boutique winery about 15 minutes later. The winemaker of Ravenswood helped plant the vineyard at Tantalus so there was a nice connection - something very common in the valley - it's amazing how many wineries are connected - one way or another. Tantalus was great - it stopped raining as soon as we arrived so we were able to taste in the garden which sat at the base of a mountain. We tasted 5 or 6 wines - all fantastic - except for the white which i discreetly tossed in the bushes (not a fan of white wine - only white i like is Caymus Conundrum - i'll pass on everything else) . We tasted and learned about the winery - the wine maker - and then made our way back to the tasting room - Tony and Sonny manned the tasting bar while it seems like everyone made purchases. I bought 6 bottles - 3 of the tempranillo and 3 bottle of the old vine zinfandel - great fragrant reds - smooth with a lot of body. Tony bought a case - kevin and dilly both bought 6 - others bought in the same range. Tantalus was a hit! We drank and tasted more wines inside for another 20 minutes. No one wanted to leave - but we were late for our next and last winery - so we said our goodbyes - and made our way back to the bus. I think it would be safe to say that at this point - we were more than tipsy - we were drunk.

We arrived at cline 15 minutes later - we step off the bus - and head into a tented tasting area - very cool - sadly - not 'our' tasting area - instead - we are ushered across the property and into an old (but restored) train car. With a table set up in the middle - with a selection of crackers and cheeses - we're given glasses and poured a taste of white (ug) - we're then asked to follow our tour guide - who definitely seemed overwhelmed by all of us - to another barrel room. We try several more wines - and 'listen' to his history of the winery - but at this point - we were going in 10 different directions - and i think he may have given up. We went back to the train car - opened several bottles - late harvest mourvedre - ancient vines zinfandel - syrah. We then - after pillaging the train car of the unopened bottles we liked (thank god chanel makes large purses ;) ) - went to the main tasting room and harangued our beleaguered host for more tastes. Poor dear man.

After a few surprising wine induced hook ups - oh my! - lots of pictures and purchases - we're herded back to the bus - on our way back to kevin and dilly's apartment for an impromptu 'after party'. It was a fabulous day - so much fun - and we're planning to do it again soon. Dinner tomorrow night at Myth with several of the people who went on the tasting - i'm sure the stories will be making the rounds....

Back to work for me - meow - K

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