Friday, February 21, 2014

Off to Premiere Napa Valley 2014

I'm headed to the 18th annual Premiere Napa Valley barrel tasting and auction today. Premiere Napa Valley offers some of the world's rarest wines, with wine winemakers pushing the limits of their creativity, offering one-of-a-kind limited lots. With a maximum of 240 bottles, and more often only 60 bottles per lot, the wines offered at Premiere Napa Valley are truly unique pieces of art. Vintners, members of the trade, and media are invited every February to taste the barrels of these special wines as a preview of the coming vintage release and to raise money for the Napa Valley Vintners trade association. The lots are purchased by retailers and restaurants and then occasionally made available to their customers.

The barrel tasting tomorrow morning will be somewhat of a preview to the 2012 vintage of Napa cabernet sauvignon. There will be the token chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and sparkling wine offerings, as well as a handful of Bordeaux blends showcasing cabernet franc, malbec, merlot and petit verdot, but the vast majority of donated wines will be varietal cabernet sauvignon. After a series of cool vintages (with 2011 being the wettest and coldest) the 2012 vintage has been proclaimed to be an excellent growing season. Fruit quality was high. Along with yield. From what I've heard from winemakers is that 2013 gets a slight nod to 2012, but I'm eager to see what the tastings today and tomorrow reveal and to see how much bidders are willing to spend on high-end Napa Valley wine.

When I get to California in a few hours (it's 5 am here at gate B37 in Denver), I'll make the drive up to Napa and weave my way throughout the valley visiting various appellation preview tastings and a few private parties. At these events, PNV lots will be previewed and other wineries not part of the auction will be pouring their latest released and maybe even a few library wines. While the introduction to vintage, and they opportunity to taste wines I can only dream of affording, are important parts of why I attend PNV, I am really looking forward to seeing friends and acquaintances in the industry. Colorado is kind of like an island in the American wine world. Most wineries and wine writers are found on the coasts. So at big industry gatherings like this it is fun to see familiar faces and meet new people. I of course am eager to taste a few key wines, but the informal and social dinner tonight with a few "New California" winemaking and wine-writing friends might be my most anticipated stop. I even brought a bottle if Colorado petit verdot to share!

Oh, I almost forgot that I told Paul Mabray that I'd try to get a selfie of Steve Heimoff and me. I saw Steve last year in passing, but didn't have the opportunity to introduce myself. I am hopeful I can meet Steve this year and fulfill my promise to Paul.

Ok, time to get some sleep in the flight and I'll report back next week (I'm sure I'll be tweeting throughout the weekend)!