Part 1: Wining.Fruit of the Vine
hen I see them I eel like I’vearrived in my own personalGarden o Eden. Their heightsare almost as inexplicable as their presenceover the unassuming elds they loom. Theyare weird. They are sentinels. They arethe giant, mysterious trees that mark thesouthern entrance into the great Valley oNapa, Caliornia. To me, they symbolisemy own growing appreciation o the richintrospections, gastronomic raptures, sensualcharms and just plain delight that Napa has tooer. They, as my Napa knowledge, grow witheach visit. I hope to never catch up.The oundation o Napa wines iscomprised, to no surprise, o grapes.
Chardonnay, in the white column, is byvolume the world’s avourite wine. Many o herversions are airly neutral in smell, taste andsoul. Not really much to delve into, or refectupon. A vodka among white wines, unlessdone right. I you choose generic Chard over
Keith Hoffman, in his two-part Napa Valley series, road-maps through sinewy vines and imbibes during delectable times on a recent tour through Napa’s wonderland.They don’t call it the Golden State for nothing.
all else, it may just be that you love oak. Perhapsyou might want to plant an oak tree and milkits sap over your morning crumpets. But thosemade with care have almost no resemblanceto the ubiquitous, oaked-up masses. As youcan tell, I’m not generally a an. However, Napa,France and other global locales do make somestunning works. In Napa, try Far Niente, whomake a sublime version. Other Napa whitesinclude Sauvignon-Blanc, Semillon and Viognier,and i it’s white you’re ater, you must try RobertSinskey’s Abraxas, and Conundrum WinesConundrum (with a heritage rom CaymusWinery). But here, we’ll ocus on the reds.
Cabernet is the thick-skinned red heavyweightand undisputed champion o the world. Cab is themain ingredient in both Napa reds and the blendsthat make Bordeaux a global household nameand produces a wine o multi-layered and variedruit, spice and earth favours. Try Far Niente,Malk Family Vineyards, Spottswoode, Mondavi,Franciscan, Stag’s Leap, and Van der Hayden.
Pinot Noir is the master o elegance. Shecan be an aromatic vixen, complex, inviting,thin-skinned, oten feeting, but alwaysthought-provoking. Incredible to drink, yes, butmake sure to spend more time breathing herin than you would or any other Napa varietal.Watch her perumes change over time. Likea great cigar, Pinot can trigger deep, neededintrospection. Or she can be boring as hell.Choose wisely. Try the Vandal Vineyard Pinotrom Robert Sinskey. So good it actually hurts.Many o the vineyards listed in the Cab sectionalso produce good Pinots.
Merlot is the red equaliser used as a singlevarietal or a blending buddy that brings asmoothness, roundness, jamminess and a back-stage pass to both Napa and Bordeaux blends.When medically prescribed as a pure varietal,it may sometimes lack the complex, ‘layered’,favours o great Cabs and Pinots. However,Merlots can also be among the most enjoyableand drinkable wines in existence. Examples