On Saturday I had the good fortune of being invited to an amazing wine tasting of boutique wines made by a group of elite winemakers. Acme Fine Wines, one of the premier wine shops in the Napa Valley, arranged the tasting. Owners Karen Williams and David Stevens brought together 12 winemakers who make wines for some 60 small wineries. The tasting was divided into two sessions. The first session was for media only and the second session began at 1 pm for consumers. Acme Fine Wines is a small wine shop located on a side street in St. Helena and it was jammed to the gills for both sessions as wine afficionados leaped at this opportunity to taste wines made by these artisan winemakers.
Each winemaker was at a table along with the winery owners who poured and described their wines. The Celia Welch Masyczek table was by far the most popular with the D.R. Stephens Cabernet and Scarecrow Cabernet available for tasting. Although I did not quite get around to tasting all the wines at this event, my overall impression was that the Celia Welch Masyczek wines are more suited to my tastes, and my favorite wine of the day was one of Celia’s, the Husic 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine sells for $110 a bottle and it is a beauty. A very elegant wine that is drinkable now.
Heidi Peterson Barrett’s table was also a hot spot featuring three wineries including two wines from her own label, La Sirena Wines. The La Sirena 2007 Moscato Azul (Dry Muscat Canelli), was a wonderful, delicious, floral and perfumy wine and one that I would definitely purchase at $30 a bottle. The La Sirena 2005 Cabernet was also a wonderful wine and a close second to the Husic Cabernet. I liked the earthy undertones of this wine, but unfortunately at $150 a bottle it’s well out of my price range.
Over at Sarah Gott’s table, I found my one and only wine bargain. Sarah is the consulting winemaker for the Clif Bar Family Winery, the same family as the energy bar company. Sarah was pouring their 2007 Climber White. This wine is mostly Sauvignon Blanc blended with Pinot Blanc, Chenin Blanc and some Muscat. This is a great summer wine, crisp and refreshing and sells for a very reasonable $14. I also enjoyed the Joel Gott 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet.
I was happy I made the hour-and-a-half trek to the tasting, because rarely do I get the chance to taste wines in this category of the cult and artisan nature. I personally cannot afford the majority of wines at this tasting. Most of the wines were around the $80 to $100 mark, well beyond what I pay for even that special-occasion wine. I thought many of the wines were too big and tannic to my liking. Granted most of these Cabernet wines should be laid to rest for several years so they can soften and become very elegant. I also pondered what the consumers thought about the tasting. They paid $175 a person for an entrance that also included some gourmet appetizers. With the tight quarters I imagine that many had to struggle to get to the popular wines. My thought is that if folks are able to cough up the $175 to taste, it follows they must also be able to buy these wines. What a great opportunity for them to have the chance to taste before they buy.
One interesting note: The person pouring the Scarecrow told me the recession has hit them in that it has slowed down the sales of their wines slightly. Could it be an opportunity for their staggering list of 10,000 people waiting to get on the Scarecrow mailing list? While driving home I thought, why is it so important for anyone to have a bottle of Scarecrow or for that matter any bottle of wine that costs over $100?