Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

New Stops (For Me) on the Silverado Trail

By Jessica Yadegaran
Thursday, April 26th, 2007 at 10:58 am in Uncategorized.

A few Saturdays ago, I found myself on the Silverado Trail in Napa following a fabulous tiki-themed party at Judd’s Hill. Winemaker Judd Finkelstein’s band The Maikai Gents played, the BBQ was award-winning, and the wine. Well, you know how I feel about the Magic. Happy place……..

So anyway, it was post bridal shower (for my best friend Jenny) and we had some time to kill in the limo so we headed to two nearby properties that I’d never visited. The first, Signorello, makes gorgeous wines at reasonable prices. My roomie Gav always has a red bottle in our wine rack, and now I can see why. The winery makes amazing Pinot Noir. I recommend the 2005 Las Amigas Vineyard: it’s all vanilla, pepper, dark plums and smoky French oak. I like to call it a light bodied Syrah. It costs $36 and well worth it. I usually pay a bit more for Pinots anyway.

The second winery we hit, Van Der Heyden, was, unfortunately, not so fab. It’s a rarity on the Trail these days to find a place that makes repeatedly poor quality or even undrinkable wines. The dark urine color of their Estate Chardonnay was pretty uncharacteristic of the varietal (it looked like an orange Moscato). The Merlot was single noted and jammy. The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon was all powdered cocoa — I expect at least 70 percent cacao-ish flavors from $50-and-over Napa Cabs. Even the White Table Wine, so hard to muck up, was sour.

I rarely go off on a winery. I always try to find the silver lining in a tasting experience, but I can’t figure out what was going on. The service was terrible and while I love winery dogs, their tasting room was far too small and low-ceilinged to tolerate his hair and odor. The only bearable wine was the 2002 Late Harvest Cab, with its 15.5 percent alcohol and 6 percent residual sugar. It’s ironic, only because I dessert wines are my least favorite. To add even more irony, the cheap truffles said to enhance the wine cost $2-something a person. We got outta there pretty fast.

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