Napa Valley – part 4 of the Californian Wine Road trip

It seems a long time ago now, but the next wine region I visited on my Californian road trip was the prestigious Napa Valley. I have to admit that I did not really have much of a plan of where to go and who to visit except for my friend Lisa Augustine at Broman Cellars. I had met Lisa way back when at a distributor’s tasting where we had both been pouring and remembered being really impressed with the wines. It was a great honour to have Lisa give us a private tasting in the house of her parents Bob and Deborah Broman. Bob Broman has been making wine in Napa and Europe for more than 30 years and from 1994 he has been making small parcels of premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc under the Broman Cellar label. Currently the total production at Broman Cellars is 1300 cases.

Delious Broman Cellar Wines

Tasting notes:
2009 Broman Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc – 397 cases produced from fruit purchased from the Beckstoffer property, Melrose Vineyard in Rutherford. The wine was cold fermented in stainless steel tanks for about 4 weeks.
Dry, high acid wine with lots of flavours of tropical fruit, nectarine and a little ripe gooseberry. Wonderful mouth feel, very well balanced and a medium + finish.
2005 Broman Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 626 cases produced. The fruit was sourced from 2 famous Napa vineyards – the Dr. Crane Vineyard in Saint Helena (gravel sub soil) and from the gently sloping Georges III vineyard in eastern Rutherford. The wine was aged in French oak barriques for 30 months. One quarter of this oak is new, the remainder is 2 – 5 years old.
Dry, red wine with a great tanin structure and plenty of acid. Lots of flavours of black fruit (brambles and black currant) and some stewed plum with some chocolate and hazelnut notes in the (medium + ) finish.
2005 Broman Napa Valley Syrah – 229 cases produced – this was my favourite wine and I think the best Syrah I had in California – we liked it THAT much that the bottles did not even make it back home…
The Syrah grapes were sourced from 2 different vineyards bordering the Napa River in the Oak Knoll district. The wine was aged for 30 months in French Oak – 1/3 new and the rest between 2-5 years old. It underwent a further 2 years aging in bottle before being released.
Dry, complex wine with flavours of blackberry, mulberry and black cherry, some pepper, leather and a bit of smoke and walnut on the lingering finish. The wine was very well balanced (medium + acid, tanin, alcohol) and had a great mouth feel. As already explained it is just very morish and plain old delicious!

Cakebread, the next winery we visited, is very large and an establishment in Napa. The winery is located in Rutherford and offers 8 different tasting packages. All tastings have to be booked in advance so undivided attention of the wine educators can be guaranteed. Nic and I opted for the reserve tasting which covers the single vineyard and reserve wines and takes at least 50 minutes (we were there for close to 1,5 hours) and our excellent wine educator was Summer

Cakebread Cellars

Reserve tasting room at Cakebread Cellars

tasting notes:
2008 Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Reserve, Carneros, Napa Valey
Dry, medium acid, medium + alcohol and body, and medium flavours of Pineapple, Cavaillon melon, some toasty,buttery and brioche notes and a medium+ coconut finish.
2006 Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Reserve, Carneros, Napa Valey
Dry, medium acid, medium + body and very well balanced wine with flavours of Charentais melon, Meyer lemon, hints of walnut and hazelnut, and a longish creamy and lemony finish.
2004 Cakebread Cellars Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
Dry, medium tannin, medium + acid wine with flavours of red cherry, a hint of forest floor (wet leaves) and some cedar in the finish.
2007 Cakebread Cellars Dancing Bear Ranch, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley – blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc
Dry, good tanin and acid structure, medium + alcohol and weight with flavours of ripe black plum, dried dates, cedar and some cigar smoke in the medium+ finish
2005 Cakebread Cellars Benchland Select Cabernet Sauviognon
Dry, velvety tannins and good acid structure, with flavours of dried fig, prunes, stewed plum and blackberry jam, cedar, hazelnut and some walnut notes in a lingering finish. Wine would continue to age well.
2007 Cakebread Cellars Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Napa Valley
Dry, velvet tannins and good acid structure, pronounced flavours of ripe black fruit, little stewed plum, some black pepper, nutmeg and chocolate in the lingering finish.

The last winery I visited in Napa was recommended to me by my dear friend Joey of Zork USA and I am very happy we got in as Palmaz Vineyards has to be THE most amazing WINERY I have ever visited! The Palmaz family, originally from Argentina, bought the old Cedar Knoll Vineyard and Winery, which had been founded in 1881 by Henry Hagen, one of Napa Valley’s pioneer winemakers. At time of purchase everything was in dire need of restoration so the family decided to start again. In 1997 they replanted the original vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdod. A few years later they added some Chardonnay and Riesling.
They also build an amazing winery which is guaranteed to make any wine maker drool:-) I copied some facts from their website and hope this and the picture will give you an idea of the awesomeness of this place:

  • “The fermentation dome is the world’s largest underground reinforced structure. It is 72’ in diameter and 54’ high.
  • Temperature stays constant at 60 degrees and humidity at 75%, the perfect atmosphere for aging wine.
  • The cave houses its own water treatment plant built to comply with strict conservation guidelines.
  • Fermentation tanks rotate on a custom-designed carousel.”
  • Palmaz Winery

    The amazing totally gravity fed Palmaz winery

    The whole family is involved in the wine project and a family member will be your host when you visit. Tours have to be pre-booked, but I highly recommend all winemakers make the effort to visit – the place really is AMAZING!! Our host was Florencia Palmaz, who runs a catering company with her mother and also looks after the sales and marketing at Palmaz. Palmaz is a boutique winery with a total production of about 4000 cases.

    Tasting notes:
    2007 Palmaz Napa Valley Riesling
    Dry, medium acid, body and alcohol, with flavours of honeysuckle, lemon and lime and a medium finish.
    2009 Palmaz Amelia Napa Valey Chardonnay
    A very elegant, dry wine with medium acid and good body; flavours of citrus, red apple, little bit of butter and some toast in the finish.
    2006 Palmaz Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
    Dry, high acid, medium + tannin, medium with with flavours of black currant and blackberry, some black currant leave, eucalyptus and cedar in the finish.
    2007 Palmaz Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
    Dry wine with grippy tannin structure and high acid, with flavours of black currant, prunes and dried black fruit and a little cedar in the finish.

    About Caroline

    Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at http://www.tastingswithatwist.wordpress.com as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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