Friday, December 28, 2012

What about the most popular wines in Napa

The first reflex is to look at the most popular wines in Napa and go try them.
I used to see which are the 100 most searched for wines, find their wineries and identify the wines we HAVE to try.

Here is what I got as the wineries that go with the most popular wines in Napa:

Joseph Phelps
Dominus estate  
Screaming Eagle,
the Harlan empire (Harlan itself but also inclusive of  Bond and Maiden )
and of course Opus One (from Mondavi).

Opus One I had already heard about it so I decided to focus on the other ones.
Screaming Eagle goes for $1,500 or more per bottle, so I realistically decided I will never pay with my own money that much for wine ( I know how hard it is to earn it !).
So this brings it down to :

Joseph Phelps
Dominus estate  
and some of the Harlan empire (Harlan itself maybe but at least some Bond or Maiden )

So, so far, we tried Shafer, Joseph Phelps and Caymus :) 3 out of (reachable) 5, not bad I would say. 2 more to go though !

Shafer Winery

Shafer was impossible to get in , however we found that the St. Helena Culinary Institue of America ( CIA) did a flight of Shafer for tasting. So we tried 4 different ones. 
We had the Chardonnay, the Merlot, the Relentless and the One point five.
I had already tried the Merlot the night before at a restaurant, and was really disappointed. The bartender at the CIA insisted it was amazing. So I gave it a honest 2nd try. 
And honesty, while I think the Relentless is maybe worth $20 , the rest really didn't seem of any interest to me and especially the Merlot which had no scent, no aromas, no bouquet... It was like water. Very disapointed. And it wasn't the bottle, I had tried it twice. So I don't understand why is Shafer so popular !

And this should give you a good idea of what to expect from the other popular expensive wines.

Joseph Phelps Winery

At Joseph Phelps ( very pretty winery by the way) , for $60 we tried about 7 wines, among which 2 of their most popular one, the Insignia. We tried the 2009 and the 2006. And once again, the 2009 ... honestly, I'll drink it if there is nothing else available but there is plenty of better wine out there for $30. On the 2006 however I would certainly say that it's interesting and pleasant, so I would certainly be willing to pay $40-50 for it, but certainly not $225. So if you really have to buy some Insignia , make sure you get the 2006 ( or maybe older, who knows...).

Caymus Winery

Caymus winery was really small and pleasant, it did give the image of a family business for sure. They are known for their Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. So we made it clear from the beginning that we would like to try that. They did give some attitude and we were told that maybe , as a bonus, we may get some if we behave. I guess next time I should show up with a coke can in my hand and a baseball hat in reverse to see what attitude I get then ... 
Anyway, once again, honestly disappointing ( we did get our bonus :) ). But I do have to mention their Zinfandel (I'll post about it in the next post !!) . So another popular wine doesn't hold it's reputation.

Harlan Winery 

Now this one has been harder to try. They are very nice on the phone and very polite. Megg was very helpful. They don't have a tasting room at the winery but they organize them at the Founder's room. However that's booked solid for the next 10 days and they are closed on the weekends. So I'll try to have some in a downtown Napa wine bar/tasting bar. And while we are at it, wasn't I surprised when I call for the Bond winery and I get Megg again who told me the same thing again. Not to mention the Maiden... So I guess more downtown Napa search to do. I really hope I won't be disapointed.

Dominus Winery and Colgin Winery

Well, these ones are quite simple, they don't do tastings at all. So ...good luck. Back to your favorite wine bar/tasting and pray that they carry some. And for Colgin , you can't even buy it unless you are on the waiting list, so it certainly plays tough to get ( like Harlan in fact..). 

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