Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Premiere Napa Valley highlights

By Jessica Yadegaran
Sunday, February 24th, 2008 at 12:19 pm in Uncategorized.

Greetings, post-Premiere. What a weekend. High rollers and high parties. Big wines and big money. My palate is puckered.

For those who don’t know: In its 12th year, Premiere is the biggest annual fundraiser for the Napa Valley Vintners, consisting of mid-winter barrel tastings, a vintage prospective tasting of the top 12 Cabernet-based wines in the Valley, and an auction of 191 lots for the trade that takes place Saturday at the Culinary Institute of America.

 It started on Friday with fabulous open houses at the wineries. At these events, you get to taste rare or yet to be released wines, and samples of what will be offered up for auction the following day. You have to understand: these blends, estate wines or otherwise rare juice is made especially for the Premiere auction. Lots go for thousands of dollars, understandably. They are one of a kinds.

Earlier in the day, I’d attended a few of the appellation open houses — St. Helena, Stag’s Leap — and was looking for differences. I was disappointed when I didn’t find much nuance when it came to Cabernet (except for Rutherford; I love that dust).  So, suffice it to say I was looking for something different when it came to sampling the auction lots. My stand-outs:

Tres Sabores: Winemaker Julie Johnson offered up her Fifth Anniversary Cuvee Rutherford, an organic blend of Cabernet, Zinfandel and Petit Sirah so soft and lush and sophisticated it’s hard to believe it contained the latter two grapes. It was the best of barrel from her caves, and you could taste it. Release is Feb. 2009.

ZD Wines: Petit Abacus, their non vintage red table wine. This is 15 vintages of ZD reserve Cabernet married with two vintages of Petit Verdot. It not only contains every reserve Cab the winery has ever produced (1992-2007), but also two vintages of Petit Verdot (2006-2007) for a blend of age and youth that I have never seen before. I believe they’re the only ones to do it. The wine will be released this November.

von Strasser Winery: Talk about different. Rudy von Strasser debuted his pioneering efforts with a Diamond Mountain District Gruner Veltliner. Yes, I said Gruner. In California. It had all the mineral and green notes and acidity you’ve come to know and love from Austria but with a tinge of fruit that can only be Cali. This is the first commercial release and he’s hoping to get 25 cases out of it for the next vintage. Release date is this September but it’s almost all spoken for (wine club and mailing list).

Other memorable moments: At a Blackbird Vineyards lunch, I got to taste Arriviste, a 2007 dry rose and a first non red for the Pomerol-inspired producer. It’s going to be a huge success when it debuts, I think, and expand that winery’s repertoire beyond silky, sensational Merlot blends. I understand it will cost around $20. Watch for it.

Toga party

Still other memorable moments: a toga party with corndogs and fries at Reynolds Family Winery. Another fun one was walking around in the hay in my patent-leather heels at Taylor’s Refresher, to celebrate the release of 815, owner Joel Gott’s value Cabernet. I was gulping down his 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, quite possibly the most refreshing and most welcome lime and melon palate cleanser.  Man can not live on Napa Cabernet.

815 hats

Taylor's Refresher party

If you want details on the highest bidders at auction, stay tuned. I’ll blog once I’ve got the results.

Premiere auction

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  • Mark V Marino

    You are having all the fun, I had Paul Torres Invite me but had to do a wine tour that ran into the evening oh well next year, maybe my writing will out run my tours by then. Good article, you like the Sav Blanc have you tried the Honig they do a good job as well as Steltzner oh and Rochioli keep writing it is always enjoyable!

  • Jessica Yadegaran

    Thanks Mark, you too. The Honig is great, but as usual, Joel’s it a bargain!