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Last week a group of 5 couples went to visit Napa and see if we could drink the valley out of wine. I regret to report that we have failed in our endeavor but came back with some tasting notes:

Pride Vineyards:

06 Viognier- Pale Yellow with loads of floral overtones. Hints of Pineapple, Green Melon and Pear. Finishes witha bit of "slate" on the palate.

05 Cab Franc - Opaque, Light Purple. On the nose - Oak, Dark Red Fruit, Some Spice, somewhat acidic. Everything at this point is up front, no mid-palate. Tannins will be nicely integrated with time. Blend is 75% Cab Franc and 25% Merlot.

05 Merlot - Opaque, medium purple, oak, strong tannins that will need at least 2 to 4 years to integrate. On the nose ... plum, plum and more plum. Full bodies. Nice on the front of the palate, drops off mid-palate and then has a 10 -15 second finish.

05 Cabernet - Dark Purple, Opaque. Much better then the 03. Lots of Dk. Fruit (loaded with raspberry and black cherry). Tannins well on their way to being integrated. Once again, nice upfront, drops off in the mid-palate and gives a pleasant 15 second finish.

Barrel Tastings:

06 Merlot - Opaque, Dark Purple, stored in American Oak. Dk fruit predominated by plum, blackberry and dark raspberry.

06 Cab - Dk. purple, opaque, Loads of Dark Fruit, Chocolate and Grand Marnier. Nice palate front middle and back with a 15 second finish. Very smooth tannins. A winner !!!!!

Next Stop:

Schoolhouse Vineyards

If you have never spent time with John and Nancy at Schoolhouse you are doing yourself a disservice. They are two of the nicest and kindest people I have met in the valley.

03 Pinot - Opaque, Mod. Red color. Loaded with Red Fruit: Raspberry, Black Cherry, Spice, Glycerin and Sassafras, SOme oak. Well-integrated tannins, Soft beautiful mid-palate with a 20 second finish.

03 Mescolanza - A mixture of 76% Zinfandel, 7 % Carignane and 17% Petit Syrah. Fruit, Spicy (White Pepper), Black Raspberry, Some oak, light ont he front of the palate the comes into it's own on the mid-palate with a 10 second finish.

And for those that do not think California Pinot can not go the distance ......

1974 Pinot ...Pristine bottle condition, nice fill level. Deep hued, garnet in color. Strawberry, cherry and all spice characteristics. Truly a Burgundian nose. On the palate, Glycerol, elegant and fully resolved. Not even close to being in decline. The finish was literally 1+ minutes.

Finally .....

Last stop of the day: Chateau Montelena

05 Chardonnay - aged 6 months in French Oak. Lots of Green Melon, very acidic

04 Estate Zin - balanced, withg lots of white pepper and some brambly flavor to it. In all fairness my glass was tainted and it tasted like wet cardboard.

04 Cab - Opaque, purpole sulfur, heat, No fruit at this time, kind of closed down with a short palate. This should be retasted in 4 or 5 years.

03 Cab Estate - 98 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cab Franc. On the nose was an indistinguishable medicinal smell. On the palate, was like tasting an oak barrel. Completely shut down.

99 Cab - Purple, opaque. Giving up some red fruit. Oaky. Alcohol on the front palate, this is all mid-palate with nothing on the end.
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