We all know I lead a mostly charmed life. I am well aware of this fact. And I am grateful for it. There are hiccups, but if there weren’t hiccups it wouldn’t be life.
Last Sunday I was invited to an event at Conn Creek. I’ve mentioned their AVA room before. I’ve even had dinner in their AVA room. Sunday they set me and a bunch of other bloggers loose in the AVA room with beekers and wine glasses. It’s kind of like the Mad Scientist meeting the town drunk.
The Napa Valley is an appellation and there are currently 14 sub-appellations. An AVA is an American Viticultural Area. You can’t make this stuff up, it has to be blessed by the ATF. Seriously.
- Los Carneros
- Mount Veeder (no fun on a bicycle)
- St. Helena
- Spring Mountain
- Diamond Mountain
- Howell Mountain
- Chiles Valley
- Atlas Peak
- Stags Leap
- Oak Knoll
Each is a little different in their own little way. The mountain AVA’s such as Atlas Peak, Spring mountain, Mt. Veeder have cooler weather in the evenings and it can get warmer in the summer. Carneros is right off of the San Pablo bay so it’s going to have a cooler marine influence. Carneros fruit can be similar to Sonoma County fruit because of the coolness. That region yields excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. The elegant Cabernets come from the mountainous regions where the grapes have to fight to produce. This intenifies the fruit which in turn makes for the heavy structure that a Cab needs.
All I remember about Chemistry is the periodic table hanging in the class room. And the fact that if I took chemistry I wouldn’t have to dissect an animal. So I memorized the table. But the beekers next to my wine glasses was pretty cool.
The AVA room is lined of a barrel of wine from each of the AVA’s. On the other side of the room all by themselves were four more barrels including one each of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. These were the other five components of a Bordeux blend. I was so making a Bordeux blend. Or so I thought. I set about tasting each of the AVA’s and taking notes. They had the barrels lined up by the intensity of the fruit in the barrel. I started with the Carneros, but I really wanted to get to the Howell Mountain in a hurry. In the back of my mind I felt that I needed to taste every one of them because there was going to be something somewhere that I was going to need and I needed to know what it tasted like so when the need came up I could say “Yep, that just needs a little of this”. The really sad thing is that I left my notes up there. The really strange thing is that I discovered the Luscious Lush can read my writing. That makes her the only person on the planet. And that scares me.
It took me five attempts to get what I was looking for. After the fourth I asked a few other folks what they thought was off. I had a good finish but no mid palate at all. I’d been using the Stag’s Leap and Atlas Peak intermittedly for a base. In the end it was the Atlas Peak with Diamond and Calistoga to fill it out. I put in about 15% Malbec for balance and 3% Petit Verdot for color and I think ultimately finish. To me it tastes like a 3/4 done chili, which is what I was looking for. I expect time in the bottle to finish it off. I kept reminding myself that essentially these were barrel samples and I had to visualize where it was going to go in time to get it right. I’ll report back later on how it all turned out.
Somebody thinks that just because she grew up in the Valley HERS is “Perfectly Blended”. We’ll see. Actually it was very good. We all made our own labels so we ended up with names like “Big Dog Red” (it was that or “Dog House Red”) “Cupcake Blend” (with a cherry on top) and a real Gingerbread man stuck to a label. Did you really expect us to behave at the end of the day?