Wine of the Day

Napa Valley Style

Yesterday I attended Keenan’s private party. Robert Keenan was a real estate investor in San Francisco who passed away last November. When asked to reflect on his career he said the best piece of property he ever bought was the land he bought on Spring Mountain. Spring Mountain is above St. Helena. You make a left at Madrone and a right at Spring Mountain and after about 20 minutes look for the sign on the right. Keenan is one of my favorites. GB can tell you, they’re old school. The tasting room is a barn and the juice is downstairs in the cellar. A lot of the grapes are grown on the property. They know me by name there. This is where they roll out everything. The Summer Blend is their white that I just love. I’ll put it up to Rombauer’s Chardonney every day of the week. It’s a more elegant wine, really built for summer. They were pouring their Chardonneys (there are three) Merlot, Cab, and the Spring Mountain Reserve, that got a 95 rating. There is not a bad wine in the bunch. The best thing about it, is their wine is priced below every one elses. The Chards are around $18 a bottle, the Cabs are around $45 I think. That Spring Mountain now sells for more. I bought some futures yesterday. Michael Keenan was in the cellar pouring from a barrel, two yet to be named Cab mixes. One had French clones in it, the other had Davis clones in it. They were selling the futures by the bottle so I got one of each. Michael Keenan thoughtfully explained maloactic fermintation to my friend, who I’m sure understood every other word. It was quite interesting. I pushed him to keep explaining how they made the wine there, even though she was glazed over by then. How often do you get a private audience with the winemaker? Cool dude.

Next stop, my old standby Freemark Abbey. I’ve been concerned because they are my benchmark for wine. I compare all Cabs to their Bosche. They were sold last year, after being in bankruptcy for some time. Some of my buddies in the tasting room had gone other places (Cardinale and Cakebread in particular). Yesterday, an old gentlemanly guy helped us. I asked him if Ted Edwards and Tim Bell were planning on staying on. He said the new ownership doesn’t mess with the wine production. That was a sigh of relief to me. After seeing what happened to Folie a Deux (who’s tasting room is now next to Mustard’s I think) I didn’t want that to happen to my beloved Freemark Abbey. I’ve been drinking their wine since 1980. They had three Bosche’s open yesterday. The 1991, 1994 and current release. I have a bottle of the 94 in my collection. It’s still aging beautifully. They’re selling it for $120 a bottle right now. Twice what I paid for it. They also had a “Bootleg” Cab what amounted to pulling the top off when they bottled, like bootleggers do with shine. It’s very good and was in the the club shipment I picked up. Their Gravel Chardonney was excellent. I don’t get shipped their whites, but I like their Chardonneys. They make them in the European style, not the California style. I was happy that as far as the wine was concerned, it was business as usual.

Next stop was supposed to be Cakebread to see my old buddy Bob. Bob tells me all the secret squirrel stuff in the valley. Bob told me about Cindy’s Backstreet years ago. He told me about a little white hut at the end of a street that had spectacular cheeses and bread and would let you have a picnic there. Bob knew which winemaker was going where, why and who drove their pickup into the canal after too many. However, we saw Franciscan and my friend used to belong there, so we went inside to get her membership straightened back out. Too many moves and they lost her. Franciscan is part of a family of wineries that include Mt. Veeder (much better than Franciscan) Simi, Estancia and several others. More importantly, their parties are the best. Sometimes they’ll open up the libraries and OMG. We went through the Mt. Veeder line. They have a Cab that they are selling for $40 a bottle that’s excellent. Since my friend was lost off their list they gave her 30% on anything we bought yesterday. She hadn’t yet made that leap of logic when I said “honey, 30% is $12 off, making this a $28 Cab”. You can’t not bring this home. She did.

Yesterday was my free day. I made it an epic free day. Keenan had salmon egg rolls and asian slaw. Yes. Lamb ribs. Yes. Grilled tacos. Yes. Grilled sausages. Yes. Brownies. Yes. Then I came home and had a nearly one pound NY and mashed potatoes. And finished a pint of the light half baked. I’m soooo riding my bike to Danville and back today. As soon as I figure out what sized inter-tube fits it.

June 17, 2007 @ 10:06

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