Thursday, April 26, 2012

Decanted Wine Beer Tastings and Master Sommelier Andrew McNamara - Wine Tasting Notes on Wine Regions within Napa Valley

Master Sommelier Andrew McNamara

Decanted Wine Beer Tastings has been my “go to” spot for several years. Quite a few spots sell wine and beer-what sets Decanted above and beyond the others is excellence in selection, discount pricing, and best of all-education.  As a writer on food and beverage, I get quite a lot of feedback on spots I mention. I get fast email feedback when comments oppose my view, and  more “sidewalk advice” in conversations when people agree-go figure!  The feedback on Decanted has been only positive since the start of Decanted. Words I most often hear are “Al and Jessica" with "integrity and honesty;” “better prices than Total Wine” and “they take the time to help me pick a great wine that’s in my budget.” The best reviews come from people who go to Decanted’s frequent wine tastings/lectures. You get a straightforward handle on the wines of a region; the tasting lets your taste buds know exactly what you prefer. I’ve been at many “blind” tastings where there’s no clue to a wine’s identity. Always, some prefer the $10 bottle, others go for the $250 bottle.  Different strokes for different folks. Blind tastings-great way to learn what you like. Then it’s fun and easier to get the best taste at a great price!
Mr McNamara Talking on Napa Wines
 Last night Andrew McNamara, one of  186 Master Sommeliers in the world talked on wines from California’s Napa region. Although wine growing started in the mid 1800’s, it wsn’t till the  1970’s when Robert Mondavi  and a few others put the region on the map with excellent wines-there were less than a dozen vintners of  note then. Now, just 40 years later, there’s around 500 vintners to choose from. There are now 16 main geographic sub regions, or sub-appellations recognized in Napa. Why? Wines from a given  region do taste unique, and different from another region, due to the soil, humidity, altitude, fog, East-West exposure and grape type. Andrew suggested for a good map and an amazingly helpful amount of  useful  information, “crunched” into all sorts of  lists and maps!

If you like wines, I highly recommend a several day visit to Napa Valley. Pick a designated driver, or go on a wine tasting tour, and prepare to get sloshed, er, educated, in a beautiful setting!

To cut to the chase on one grape of perhaps a dozen different varietals grown in the area- Cabernet Sauvignon- look at a map of Napa Valley, which runs North and South. The grapes taste quite different due to geographic and soil differences. To make generalizations…bolder, bigger, juicier wines tend to come from the warmer Northern wineries, and more refined, “elegant,” less tannic wines come from the South. Next, it’s “mountain” vs “valley” wines, as vines in the cooler mountain sites yield “in your face” , burly, darker wines than vines grown in the valleys. Why? The temperature drops below the 50’s on the mountain at night, and the grapes can increase acidity and form a different “balance” with sugar content and “fruitiness.” Next, East vs West exposure makes a difference in sunlight and temperature range. Then there’s soil variations…on and on.
Attendees agreed that it was a well spent evening as they sampled seven key wines from the region, ranging from $40 to over $100. We sampled over $400 worth of wine, gained insight into Napa Valley wines, and had delicious cheeses, charcuterie and met new friends. All for just $25- well, well worth it!   
 Megan Gauruder of Premier Beverage brought these wines/prices for the tasting: Hess Collection Cab, ’07, Mt Veeder, $40; Pride Cabernet, ’09, Spring Mountain, $90; Burgess Cab, ’08, Howell Mountain, $40; Longmeadow Ranch Cab, ’08, Rutherford, $53; Groth Cab, ’09, Oakville, $60l, Silverado Solo Cab, 08, Stags Leap, $100. The “bigger wines”, full of tannins like Stags Leap and Calistoga wines, age the best/longest.

I have the link to  the Decanted Schedule here.
 I strongly recommend you get on their email list-classes fill quickly!
Co-Owner Jessica with the Evening's Wines
 1410 Pine Ridge Road #21  Naples, 800-980-576,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Will try a Decanted class!! Thanks so much!!!