Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley

"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading." -Henny Youngman-

Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley, is quickly becoming a favorite place to visit.  First, their wines are fabulous, the staff is exceptionally knowledgeable and friendly and it's just FUN to visit.  Duckhorn is actually three wineries and locations.  Duckhorn is the "mother ship" specializing in Bordeaux varietals, while their Paraduxx winery produces blends, and their Goldeneye winery produces some of the best Pinot Noirs I've ever tasted.  Visiting each is a unique experience.

In September, my wife, brother-in-law, niece, and I took a wine and food pairing session, "Food for Thought" at Duckhorn that was informative and lots of fun.  Our hostess and instructor extraordinaire, Meghan Shaw, was both enlightening and entertaining.

Meghan explained the five taste sensations: bitterness, sourness, sweetness, saltiness, and umami (as in who's you mammy).  Personally, I was oblivious of umami which is Japanese for "savory" and describes more of a sensation than a strong taste like the other four.

She explained a few important tidbits such as salt mutes cabernet and makes them fruity while lemon mutes acid and sugar also wipes out cabernets.  We had the opportunity to test those pointers, and Meghan was right.  One must be careful with pairings.

For our pairing experience we were served:  2009 Napa Sauvignon Blanc with goat cheese, leek and Pancetta Tart; 2007 Goldeneye Pinot Noir with mushroom dumpling and miso broth; 2007 Napa Merlot with skewered lamb meatball and Tzatziki; 2007 Napa Cabernet with pepper-seared beef tenderloin on vichyssoise, and 2006 Estate Cabernet, Patzimaro Vineyard with Rosemary parmesan cheese straw.  The wines and food were a fabulous experience!!!

We went back and forth trying the different wines with the different foods, but the original pairing was the best and showed how the different wines and foods worked together and enhanced the sensation.

Meghan then brought out a couple of wines not on the menu to try.  One was a 2007 Cab Franc that was outstanding.  We added that wine to our "buy" list, which was already extensive.

The Enhanced Tableside Tasting is $25 a person and is worth every penny for the five limited production wines and the excellent tastings.  Call ahead for a reservation, 1-888-354-8885 or email concierge@duckhorn.com.  You won't be sorry!

Near the end of  our tasting experience while discussing learning a foreign language, Meghan said "After a few glasses of wine, I can speak pretty good Italian."  That line gives you a sense of the fun we had with Meghan and all the Duckhorn people.

Give them a call!  Or email! Or go on line for a reservation but if you're heading toward Napa Valley, visit Duckhorn and Paraduxx, both situated fairly close to one another.  Unfortunately, Goldeneye is in the Anderson Valley, so not as close.

Be sure and send me your comments, dear readers.

Tom da Wine Guy

"I made wine out of raisins so I wouldn't have to wait for it to age." -Steven Wright-


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