Sunday, August 19, 2007

August 16

Mike and I's plan to tackle Napa was simple - we had a Frommer's guide that a friend lent us, and multiple e-mails detailing favorites of friends and their coworkers. So we looked at that info, and made a list of which places we wanted to see (I threw in a few from food network shows too!). I then labelled where each was located (NN for North Napa, SS for South Sonoma, etc) and we planned out when were were going to see what according to where each winery was and where we had dinner reservations (for example, Saturday I made resos for downtown Sonoma and so we drove around Sonoma that day).

First, we went just a few miles south of our hotel and hit Domaine Carneros, which was recommended by multiple friends, planning to head north through Napa Valley after that.
They offered a flight of bubbly and a flight of pinot noir, both of which were good. The Brut Rose sparkling wine was so good, I insisted upon going home with a bottle of it. We liked the place - it was gorgeous and peaceful and just exuded the air of vacation and relaxation, but we didn't join the wine club because it was our first stop! What if we wanted to join another club more?

Next up, we hit Clos du Val. They had several different types of reds (and Chardonnay, but I didn't try it because it was supposedly oaked quite a bit and I don't really care for oaked Chardonnay). Mike liked these alot, but I think they will be better with a bit age. We got two bottles, and the woman recommended 5-7 years aging - I am going to try and make sure that happens because I think they will be REALLY good then. Someone (cough, cough) is going to be asking for a wine chiller for Christmas this year.....

After Clos du Val, we hit up Stag's Leap. I was almost sure that I would want to join the wine club there, but decided against it after the tasting. I liked their wines, but they were of the dusty Stag's Leap region taste. Good, but not what I would pick given the chance.

We had stopped earlier to get a lunch of cheeseburgers at the Marriott after Carneros, but by this time I was fiending for some soft cheese (you know me and the triple cream cheese.... ai yi yi) and more bubbly, so we headed to Domaine Chandon. Disappointed is not extreme enough for the experience at Domaine Chandon. They are owned by Moet and obviously know how to make a great bottle of bubbly. Additionally, the grounds were lovely and very beautiful. Unfortunately, the tasting room looked like an ultra-lux European club. No one at the bar paid attention to us or welcomed us, and we stood there for a good 5-10 minutes. As we stood there, it was obvious there was a frat party going on, as the entire lounge was wasted and yelling "Cheers!" and the like. Now, I like myself a frat party just as much as the next person, but by this time we were deep into the chill-out-honeymoon-meandering-around vibe. Mike was over the whole scene, as was I, and we bailed. As we headed out, we saw a really drunk guy shatter his glass. Party time! Even the parents wheeling their thousand dollar strollers out to the parking lot were wasted. I'm thinking if there is a chance you could wheel your stroller into the nearby lake, maybe you shouldn't drink and stroll....

The one redeeming quality was this cool bottle wall. That's all I have to say about that.
After all that we were fed up (and I really wanted me some soft cheese), so we headed back to Domaine Carneros and had a couple glasses of the Brut Rose and the soft cheese flight. I even tried some caviar, which was OK. I mean, I wouldn't spit it out at a party a la Tom Hanks in Big, but I would never wake up and think "Man, I would love me some caviar today." After a couple glasses of bubbly, we lost our inhibitions and signed up for the wine club at Carneros. We loved it that much.

That night's dinner was at Julia Child's restaurant in downtown Napa,
Julia's Kitchen. This restaurant was located in COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food, and the Arts. I never did find out what COPIA stood for.... but they had alot of Julia Child's pots and pans prominently displayed in the front hallway, which was pretty cool. It was an early dinner.... this was one of my major messups all week - the reservations I made were for early. I had figured that since we would be wine-tasting all day we would want to go straight to dinner and be hungry early - notsomuch. By each dinnertime, we were wine-d out. This first day of wine-tasting were were ready to burst and weren't even that hungry, but we adjusted for this in the next couple days by eating a lighter lunch a bit earlier and cutting out on so many of the snacks. Regardless of whether we were hungry or not, that meal was fantastic - Mike had beef medallions and I had a scallop appetizer (again, I LOVE scallops) and the lamb trio. It was all fantastic. Especially the bing cheery strudel we forced down our gullets after all that. The portions were kind of small, and I think if Mike had been really hungry he would have been all "Where is the rest of my food?!" But since he wasn't that hungry it turned out great! And I would highly recommend the restaurant, the food was all delicious.