Wine Tasting visit to the Napa Valley, California - Inglenook Winery

Napa Valley Wine map by fermentedgrape.com

A sad and terrible sight travelling from the Russian River Valley to Napa along the Mountain Home Ranch Road, via the Petrified Forest to Calistoga. There were a huge number of burnt out homes and cars lining the road. Blackened trees and grass everywhere. 

The series of wildfires in early October 2017 were the worst in California's modern history. Stretching across Napa, Lake, Sonoma, Mendocino, Butte, and Solano counties, they took 8,000 firefighters weeks to control, burnt down 8,400 buildings and killed at least 43 people.

Napa valley fires October 2017

Seventeen separate wildfires were reported at that time and included the Tubbs Fire, the Atlas Fire, Nuns Fire, and others.  The fires started on October 8 and 9 and by October 14, the fires had burned more than 210,000 acres Collectively, this event was the largest loss of life due to wildfires in the United States since the Cloquet Fire in 1918.

Despite the devastation to residential areas, the majority of wineries and vineyards sustained little or no damage. But in some cases the fires came very close. Of 1,200 wineries in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino, only 11 were “destroyed or heavily damaged”, according to the Wine Institute, a California trade body. 80-90 per cent of the grape harvest in the region was fortunately complete before the fires started. For the small amount of unharvested grapes, including cabernet sauvignon, there is a risk of smoke taint or ash residue in the must. 

Before tasting, a visit to the Market Restaurant on 1347 Main Street in St. Helena. Very tasty Huevos Rancheros. Worth a visit.

Visit to Inglenook winery, Rutherford

Inglenook winery in Rutherford California

A reservation was made for a tasting at the iconic Inglenook Winery owned by Francis Ford Coppola. The weather was dreadful on this day in November with rain pouring all day long. This is an amazing estate that is for sure with the very famous Inglenook Rubicon. But to be honest I had mixed feelings about the tasting experience - perhaps too theatrical for my liking, too staged, though the story behind the estate is a fascinating one and our guide during the flight was very knowledgable. 

Inglenook winery tasting November 2017

Wines tasted:

Blancaneaux -is a white Rhone-style blend of estate-grown Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier. 

Edizione Pennino Zinfandel pays tribute to Francis Ford Coppola’s maternal grandfather, Francesco Pennino. Born in Italy, Francesco emigrated to the United States as a young man and started a music publishing company known as “Edizione Pennino.” When Coppola purchased the Inglenook estate in 1975, it was recommended that he remove the Zinfandel vines, but because this varietal has Italian origins and has always been enjoyed by his family, he insisted the Zinfandel remain.

Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon. Previously this wine was known as CASK Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a tribute to the historic world-renowned Inglenook 1941 vintage, produced by John Daniel, Jr. from vines brought to the Inglenook Estate from Bordeaux by Gustave Niebaum. Today, this estate-grown wine is blended with the best lots of Cabernet Sauvignon that remain after the highly selective blending of Rubicon.

Inglenook Rubicon 2014

Rubicon. In 1975, Francis Ford Coppola purchased the historic Inglenook property, intent on restoring the estate’s legacy of creating world-class wines equal to those that founder Gustave Niebaum and his grandnephew John Daniel Jr. made for decades. Rubicon, the estate’s premier wine since 1978, is produced from the best estate grown fruit, including the historic Gustave Niebaum Cabernet Sauvignon selection, which was first planted on the property in the 1880s.

This 2014 was 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2%Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot

Aging: 18 months 100% French Oak; 75% New Oak

Total Alcohol: 14.2%

Vineyard: Pritchett Hill, Cohn, Gio, Lower Garden

The 2014 Rubicon was a very well balanced Cabernet blend with silky tannins, rounded fruit and acidity. The winery would describe as "harmonious, lasting character" - yes. Blackcurrant and black cherries with spice and vanilla on the palate and a long finish. An iconic wine from an iconic winery. Worth $210 a bottle - no. Fortunately managed to pick up a bottle for a discount and I'm looking forward to cellaring for a few years to bring out the best.

A quick visit to the Napa on this occasion, but will be back for sure for further tasting adventures.