Patty's Pinot Closet Newsletter

Volume 3, Issue 1
March, 2005
Circulation 9063 Wineries, Retailers, and Wine Lovers

Napa County, CA

Patty's Pinot Closet publishes this newsletter on the enjoyment and appreciation of Pinot Noir. We welcome you to enjoy the newsletters and to share them with others. This, my tenth newsletter, covers Napa Valley Pinot Noirs from California. Tasting was done at wineries, wine festivals, and during very lovely dinners and lunches.

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Announcing "Wine Notes"
Software for Wine Evaluation

Developed exclusively for me to evaluate wines quickly, accurately and with more detail than using a mere pencil. Wine Notes allows a user to evaluate wines using the 100-point scale. Easy to use with point and click operation. You can always have it with you because it runs on a Pocket PC. Available in May 2005 through Patty's Pinot Closet website.

Napa Food, Wine and Accommodations

I've tried to think of a food unique to Napa Valley and at first all I could come up with was mustard. Years ago, in the 1970s I remember seeing mustard blooming amongst the vines during January. The vines were pruned for the winter and it had been raining for days. The mustard was vibrant yellow among the rain blackened vines. A sight I'll never forget. Napa Valley celebrates that mustard with an annual Mustard Festival from January to April.

More recently, we sat under two big fig trees in the Spring Mountain District with John Gantner and Nancy Walker drinking their School House Pinot Noir and eating Black Mission Figs direct from the tree - an absolutely beautiful combination.


Dean & Deluca. At the South side of Saint Helena you'll find Dean & Deluca. They offer a wonderful selection of Pinot Noirs including many hard to find ones. You'll also find an amazing array of food. I'm afraid my mouth gaped open as I wandered around the store looking at fresh quail eggs, squid ink, and fresh candied pansies. Here, I discovered Spanish Fig Cake and fell in love with it served with Manchego Cheese. They carry a huge selection of flavored vinegars and oils, as well as many kinds of Pâté and cheeses.

Quail Eggs
Dean & Deluca

Two places you can find Spanish Fig Cake:

The Carmel Cheese Shop in Carmel, CA

The Cheese Store in Beverly Hills, CA


In the Spring Mountain District of Napa Valley we visited School House Vineyard. John Gantner and Nancy Walker shared their wonderful Pinot Noir with us under a large old Black Mission Fig Tree. We pulled figs right off the tree as we sipped the Pinot. Spanish Fig Cake and fresh figs remain my favorite food remembrance from Napa Valley so I've developed a recipe for Chicken Thighs with Pinot Noir and Figs.

Poached Pinot Figs are also a wonderful dessert with Pinot Noir. See our website for a recipe.

Candied Pansies
Dean & Deluca


Julia's Kitchen at COPIA. COPIA made Julia Child an honorary Trustee of the center and named this wonderful restaurant after her. Since 1996, Julia Child was an invaluable adviser to COPIA. Both the restaurant and Chef Victor Scarglet have won many awards. They display her copper cookware collection in COPIA's Core Exhibition Gallery. Julia used this set of cookware over several decades in her kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Also at COPIA you can order sandwiches from the deli and sit outside in COPIA's demonstration gardens.

Terra Restaurant in Saint Helena. When I asked the locals where to eat in Napa Valley they all answered Terra Restaurant in Saint Helena. I have to agree – it is wonderful. The James Beard Foundation named Chef Hiro Sone the Best California Chef for 2003. His wife Lissa Doumani runs the restaurant. You dine in a very romantic old stone building and the service, food, and atmosphere are wonderful.

Napa Valley Wine Train. While dining at Terra we watched the Napa Valley Wine Train go by and decided to try that also. We enjoyed an evening of lovely food and wine aboard the circa 1915 Dining and Lounge Car. We first enjoyed dinner in the Dining car while traveling from Napa to Saint Helena. At Saint Helena we moved to the Lounge car and enjoyed the trip back to Napa with wine, coffee, and dessert.

Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in Saint Helena. Here you'll enjoy wonderful food in a relaxed atmosphere. Web Site

Downtown Joe's. An American Grill and Brewhouse offering six special brew recipes and always an addition or two to celebrate the season. They offer tours of the brew house. Dine inside or outside at this lively restaurant offering good food and good beer.

Julia´s Kitchen

Terra Restaurant

Napa Wine Train


Napa Valley contains a plethora of hotels, bed & breakfasts, and luxury resorts. These range in price from affordable to very expensive. A couple that I recommend are:

Casa Lana

The John Muir Inn. Affordable by Napa Valley standards and very comfortable. Right on Hwy 29 in Napa. Web Site

Casa Lana Bed & Breakfast, Calistoga, CA. At the top end of Napa Valley in Calistoga we found this lovely B&B. In the medium price range it afforded a beautiful quiet setting next to the river. Our room was large and absolutely beautiful. In the morning we enjoyed a wonderful continental breakfast on the patio. Lana, a graduate of the California Culinary Institute, also runs a cooking school at Casa Lana. Web Site

Things To Do In Napa County

COPIA Located in the city of Napa on the banks of the Napa River. COPIA supplys a fun, interactive center where you investigate the fascinating cultural intersections of wine, food and the arts. Robert Mondavi first conceived the center and donated $20 Million to get it started. Enjoy tastings, classes, festivals, exhibitions and performances that engage your senses and enrich your life. COPIA offers something for everyone. Plan to spend an entire day at COPIA to stroll through the gardens, examine the exhibitions, enjoy the wine and food tastings, eat at the restaurant or the café, shop in Cornucopia and more!

The American Center for
Wine, Food, and the Arts

Stained Glass at Beringer
Photo by Don Eastman

Beringer Vineyards, the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley and the first to offer public tours, offers guests original and inspiring wine country experiences. Guests at Beringer Vineyards can follow their fancy - or even a few fancies - with a variety of different seminars and tours offered daily at the winery.

This tour focuses on the Beringer estate, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as an Historic District in 2001. Guests can explore the wine-aging caves and gravity-flow winery from 1876, the landmark Rhine House completed in 1884, and other architectural aspects of the property. Web Site

The Napa Valley Vintners website contains an abundance of information on Napa Valley wineries and wines.

Napa Valley Wine Festivals

January 9 through April 9, 2005 – 12th Annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival
June 2-5, 2005, Auction Napa Valley 2005
16 July 2005 -- 6th Annual Festival of Food, Wine & Music, Napa Valley. Contact the Hospice of Napa Valley at 707.258.9080
2005 Napa Valley Vintners Tours Web Site
Continuing – Gourmet Weekend cooking classes at Casa Lana B&B Web Site

Click Here for a complete list of Pinot Wine Festivals.

Napa County Pinot Noirs

Napa Valley Wine Regions:

An appellation itself, the Napa Valley contains 14 subappellations, or (American Viticulture Areas) AVAs, including: Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley District, Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mt. Veeder, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Spring Mountain District, Stags Leap District, Yountville, Wild Horse Valley and Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. The Calistoga appellation is still pending approval.

Los Carneros AVA

The Carneros AVA grows most of the Pinot Noir grown in Napa Valley. An AVA since 1983, it is half in Sonoma County and half in Napa Valley. Pinot Noir constitutes 37% of the vines planted on the 9,000 acres. Carneros receives approximately 2,100 degree days and therefore qualifies as a Region I growing area as defined by the University of California, Davis heat summation system. Region I is the coolest of five classifications. They receive about 22-23 inches of rain a year, the lowest in Napa and Sonoma Counties. Wineries in the Napa portion of Los Carneros include Artesa Wines, Mahoney Family Vineyards, Madonna Estate, Saintsbury, Etude Wines, Patz & Hall, Acacia Winery, and Bouchaine Vineyards.

Napa County AVAs

Napa Valley Pinot Noir Outside Carneros AVA

Outside of the Carneros AVA you'll find little pockets of wine growing areas cool enough to grow good Pinot Noir. I discovered School House Vineyards in the Spring Mountain District, Hendry Winery between Carneros and Mount Veeder, Elkhorn Peak Cellars East of Carneros, and Green Truck Cellars Southeast of Carneros. Below I've talked about some of these wineries and their cooler Napa Valley growing areas.

School House Vineyards Very few Pinot Noirs are grown outside of the Carneros AVA in Napa Valley because of the heat in the rest of the valley. One extrodinary exception is the School House Pinot Noir. This may be the most cult wine of Pinot Noir. In the 1940s, Andre Tchelistcheff made one of his most significant contributions to the California wine industry when he encouraged local growers to propagate the Cabernet Sauvignon variety. He instructed John Daniels, owner of the famous Inglenook Estate, to replace his Pinot Noir vineyard in Rutherford with Cabernet which he felt was better suited to that growing region. Having brought the Pinot Noir budwood from Burgundy's Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Daniels and his close friend, John O. Gantner opted to transplant as much as they could to Gantner's School House property up on Spring Mountain. Thus, in 1957, the noble Pinot Noir variety from its most regal heritage began a long legacy of small production of very high quality wines, the School House Pinot Noir.

Hendry Winery The 115-acre Hendry Vineyard is located on the bench lands between Napa Valley's Carneros and Mount Veeder viticulture districts. They've grown premium grapes for wines such as Opus One at this location for more than 40 years. In 1992 George Hendry decided to hold back some of his best grapes and make wine – the results are wonderful.

They have a new gravity-flow winery. It minimizes the use of pumping, completely eliminates the pumping of must, which makes it easier to control the whole berry component at the start of fermentation. This is important because it allows them to control the fruit component in their finished wines. The winery and wines are worth a visit by appointment only.

Elkhorn Peak Cellars Located just east of Carneros is Jamieson Canyon where you'll find Elkhorn Peak Cellars. For years, Jamieson Canyon was known only for cattle grazing. Now, it is quickly becoming recognized as a prime grape-growing region. With the influences of San Francisco and San Pablo Bay, the early morning fog and afternoon breezes create the perfect growing conditions for the cool region's grapes, notably Pinot Noir, the most difficult of all grapes to grow.

Green Truck Cellars Named after his Grandfather's green 1966 Ford F-100 (Twin I-Beam Suspension) truck, Kent Fortner now uses the truck to harvest Pinot Noir. He uses grapes from the Nord Vineyard, at the southern end of the Napa River, where the water pours into San Pablo/San Francisco Bay. His hand crafted Pinot Noirs merit a try.  Web Site

A New Trend in Napa Valley

Another interesting phenomena occurring is that traditional Cabernet producers in Napa Valley are going to Sonoma and purchasing land to grow Pinot Noir grapes. An example of this is Joseph Phelps. They've planted more than 90 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Freestone in Western Sonoma County. Phelps has spent $25 million in this attempt to produce a world-class Pinot Noir. The first 2004 Pinot Noir is in the barrels now.

Patty's Pinot Closet lists all the wines reviewed in current and past newsletters. We've included a price taken from the winery website or other retail sources if possible. They are included for relative comparison only, your price may be different.

School House
200075.0096Full bodied, ruby-garnet color Pinot Noir with aromas of earthy, forest floor, mushroom, and black-currents. Well-balanced, complex wine with velvety dark fruit tastes with smokey hints. Very long lingering aftertaste.
Diamond Oaks Winery
Silver Carneros
200219.0093 Medium intensity, ruby-garnet Pinot Noir displays plum and black cherry aromas with hints of vanilla. A very Burgundian Pinot Noir
Green Truck Cellars
200235.0093Big bodied ruby-garnet wine with aromas of complex earthy black cherries and roses. Well balanced with a wonderful velvety taste and a long long finish.
Hendry Block 4 & 5
200127.0093Dense bodied, purple-garnet wine with aromas of black currant, orange blossom and spice. Tastes of earthy dark fruit with hints of vanilla. A lovely long finish.
Patz & Hall Wine Company
Hyde Vineyard
2002 50.0093 Medium density ruby-garnet wine with aromas of earthy blackberry and white pepper. Complex, well-balanced tastes of earthy dark fruit and white pepper. Medium finish.
Ancien Wines
Mendocino, Anderson Valley, Savoy Vineyard
200136.0092Dense ruby color with earthy aromas of black cherries, spice and mushrooms. Well-balanced with good bodied black fruit in mouth and a long lovely aftertaste.
Carneros Creek Winery
Signature Reserve
199948.0092 Medium to dark intensity with bouquet of blackberry and licorice. Good balance and body. Long lingering aftertaste.
Domaine Carneros
Famous Gate
200045.0092Dark dense ruby-garnet color with Burgundian nose of black cherry, toast, coffee, and smoke. Great body and long lingering aftertaste. When tasted only available at the winery.
Hendry Ranch
200227.0092Dense bodied, purple-garnet wine with aromas of black currant, spice, vanilla and orange blossom. Velvety, earthy, dark fruit tastes with a long finish.
Madonna Estate
200226.5092Medium bodied, ruby-garnet color wine with earthy aromas of black cherry and licorice. Velvety tastes of dark fruit and a hint of toasty oak and spice.
Capiaux Cellars
Santa Lucia Highlands, Pisoni
1998 91Dense ruby garnet color with earthy black cherry and spice on the nose. This well-balanced wine tastes of black fruit.
Carneros Creek Winery
2001 40.0091Intense ruby-garnet wine with black cherry, spice and tea bouquets. Well balanced but with enough tannin to age well. Long lovely aftertaste
Carneros Creek Winery
Mahoney Estate, Las Piedras "The Stones"
200026.0091 Medium intensity with ruby-garnet color. Black cherry and spicy bouquets. Well balanced with soft tannins and a long lingering aftertaste
Deerfield Ranch Winery
2002 91This medium intensity ruby-garnet Pinot Noir displays earthy, smokey, black-cherry aromas and tastes with a long aftertaste.
Duckhorn Wine Company
200226.0091Medium body, ruby color, with aromas of smokey black cherry and forest floor. Tastes of dark fruit such as boysenberry and plum.
Gregory Graham
200132.0091Medium bodied, ruby-garned wine with earthy, forest floor, black-cherry aromas. Silky tastes of smokey dark fruit and a medium finish.
McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards and Winery
200028.0091Medium bodied, ruby-garnet color wine with earthy floral and black currant aromas. Well balanced and complex with tastes of velvety cassis and cranberry. A very long finish on this wine.
Paul Hobbs
Carneros, Hyde Vineyard
200265.0091Medium bodied ruby-garnet color with aromas of roses, spice and cherries. Complex flavors of dark fruit a nice undertone of oak and a nice finish.
Capiaux Cellars
200226.0090Medium bodied brilliant ruby-garnet color Pinot Noir with aromas of earthy strawberries, truffle, and white pepper. Velvety tastes of dark fruit with a hint of smoke. Long but slightly bitter aftertaste.
Cuvaison Winery
200228.0090This medium intensity ruby-garnet Pinot Noir displays aromas of earthy black cherry and spice. Tastes of velvety black fruit linger in the aftertaste.
Domaine Carneros
200027.0090Dense ruby-garnet color with jammy Burgundian nose of plum and cherry. Good body with medium finish.
Elke Vineyards
DonnellyCreek Vnyd
2001 90Medium bodied ruby-garnet wine with aromas of earthy, smokey, black-cherry and cassis. Nicely balanced with a long finish.
Etude Wines
200240.00 90Medium intensity, ruby-garnet color with toasty earthy cherry aromas and a silky taste.
Francis Coppola
Monterey County, Diamond Series
200217.0090Medium bodied ruby-garnet color with aromas of cherry and plum. Tastes of red fruit and a long lovely finish.
Lost Canyon
Las Brisas Vineyard
200138.0090Aromas of earthy black cherry, cigar box and mushroom. Tastes of dark fruit with hints of earthy cigar box and white pepper. Nice finish.
Ancien Wines
Napa, SE Napa, Mink Vineyard
200028.0089Medium ruby-garnet color with perfumy aromas of violets. Well balanced medium bodied with a medium length finish.
Bouchaine Vineyards
200228.0089Spicy black cherry aromas and taste.
Carneros Creek Winery
200024.0089Medium to dark intensity with bouquet of raspberry and cocoa. Well balanced with medium body. Medium aftertaste.
Carneros Creek Winery
Vin Gris Pinot Noir
200212.00 89Salmon colored, crisp, dry wine with flavors of strawberry, melon and honeysuckle. Makes a great aperitif or summer wine.
Domaine Carneros
200129.0089This medium intensity ruby-garnet Pinot Noir displays earthy, black cherry aromas. Tastes of silky dark fruit with wine has a short finish.
Elkhorn Peak Cellars
Fagan Creek Vineyard
1999 89Medium bodied ruby-garnet color with aromas of toasty raspberry and licorice. Tastes of velvety black fruit with a medium finish.
Elkhorn Peak Cellars
Fagan Creek Vineyard
2000 89Medium bodied ruby-garnet color with aromas of toasty earthy violets and black-cherries. Tastes of earthy, velvety dark fruit with a medium finish.
Judd's Hill
200326.0089Medium bodied, ruby-garnet color wine with floral aromas of raspberry and cherry. Well balanced tastes of silky red fruit.
Patz & Hall Wine Company
Mendocino, Alder Springs Vineyard
2002 50.0089Dense ruby-garnet wine with plum, raspberry, and rose aromas. Flavors of blueberry, spice and licorice. Medium aftertaste.
S. Anderson
200100.0089Medium bodied black cherry color with earthy black cherry aromas. Tastes of dark fruit and hints of vanilla.
Sterling Vineyards
Winery Lake
200028.0089Medium bodied with aromas of black cherry and hints of oak and spice. Silk tastes of dark fruit with a complex aftertaste.
ZD Wines
200034.0089 Aromas of raspberries and plums with hints of vanilla, cinnamon, earth and cedar. Tastes of black cherry accompanied by silky tannins and a very long aftertaste.
Acacia Winery
2001 88Full bodied brilliant ruby-garnet Pinot Noir with complex black cherry aromas. A little Brettanomyces in the nose for those who like it. Tastes of dark fruit and stemmy tannins. Medium finish.
Ancien Wines
Napa, Carneros
200130.0088Medium-bodied ruby-garnet color with earthy aromas of black cherries, chocolate and spice. Light mouth feel, high acid and short finish.
200026.0088Medium bodied, ruby-garnet color with aromas of black cherry, orange blossom, and vanilla. Tastes of silky dark fruit and white pepper.
200220.0088Medium bodied, ruby-garnet color with aromas of earthy raspberry. Tastes of velvety dark fruit.
Z D Wines
200220.0088Medium intensity, ruby-garnet color with toasty aromas of black cherry and cinnamon. Tastes of velvety plums and vanilla with a medium finish.
Anderson Valley , One Acre
200150.0087Aromas of cherries and cherries, oak and sage in the mouth.
Anderson Valley, Savoy Vineyard
200150.0087Tea and raspberry in the nose with raspberries in the mouth.
Mendocino, Anderson Valley, One Acre
200155.0087Aromas of raspberry, strawberry and orange peel. Flavors of cherry, oak, and sage.
Mendocino, Anderson Valley, Savoy vineyard
200150.0087Aromas of pomegranate, roses, and tea. Thin in the mouth with berry flavors and a short finish.
Napa Wine Co
200318.00 87Medium intensity, ruby color with spicy-cherry aromas with some earthiness.
Robert Sinskey Vineyards
Four Vineyards
200130.0087Medium intensity, ruby-garnet color with smokey aromas of plums, orange pekoe and spice. The silky raspberry tastes finish nicely.
Clos Du Val
200138.0086Light bodied, ruby-garnet color with earthy cherry aromas and long aftertaste.
Hagafen Cellars, Inc
2002 24.0086Light bodied cherry wine with raspberry and strawberry aromas. Silky tastes of blueberry, orange and white pepper. Lovely aftertaste of licorice and tea.
Monticello Vineyards
200234.0086Light bodied, ruby-garnet color wine with floral aromas of strawberry and raspberry. Well balanced with silky raspberry flavors.
Beaulieu Vineyard
200018.0085Light intensity with aromas of cherries and wild berries.
Bouchaine Vineyards
Buchli Station
200212.9985Spicy black cherry aromas and taste.
Carneros Creek Winery
Cote de Carneros
200017.0085Medium intensity with ruby-garnet color. Burgundian cherry aromas. Nice balance and medium body. Restaurants only
Carneros Creek Winery
200116.0085Light intensity , ruby-garnet color with raspberry aromas. Tastes of red fruit.
Domaine Carneros
200118.0085Medium density, ruby-garnet color with bouquet of rose petals and maple syrup.
Echelon Vineyards
200124.0085 Medium intensity ruby-garnet color with a blackberry, chery, cinnamon and black pepper aromas. Tastes of earthy black fruit and cloves and sadly a hint of concrete and a medium finish.
Koves-Newlan Vineyards
200226.0085Light bodied, ruby-garnet color wine with aromas of black cherry.
Truchard Vineyards
200035.0085Light raspberry aromas and tastes.

Corrections: WesMar Price from $60 to $29.
Wes Mar
Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Vine Hill Road
2001 29.00 93 Medium intensity, ruby-garnet color with aromas of raspberry, vanilla, spice, and orange blossom. Flavors of Cinnamon, Vanilla, and Cranberry. Lovely long aftertaste.

Subsequent Newsletters: Our next newsletter covers Santa Cruz Mountains, CA.

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