Thursday, October 6, 2011

Darioush Winery (Napa Valley)

We finished at Caymus early and had a little time to kill so we decided to make an impromptu stop at Darioush Winery. The architecture at Darioush Winery is Persian-inspired and definitely evoked feelings of grandeur as we walked up. As we entered the tasting room, its high ceiling created a very breezy atrium with walls lined with designer merchandise. They also displayed a number of large magnum bottles with which we had a lot of fun taking pictures. The room was packed but we found a quiet corner to begin our wine tasting.

We selected their signature flight where you got to taste 5 wines for $35 (they also have an option of 2 for $18). It's a little on the pricey side for a tasting but if you buy two bottles, the tasting is comped which I thought was a nice touch. The three of us shared two tastings and it was just right for us (we've already been drinking and we knew we had a lot more coming up!) We started with the 2010 Signature Viognier ($39/bottle), followed by the 2009 Signature Chardonnay ($43/bottle) and the 2008 Signature Merlot ($46/bottle). They were all easy to drink, but unfortunately I didn't think any of them were that distinct or memorable. One could probably find similar wines for a much lower price. The last two flights were the Signature Cabernet Sauvignons, one from 2006 and the other from 2008 (both $88/bottle). The 2008 vintage, even though it was younger, was actually smoother than the 2006.

Overall Darioush was a fun winery to visit. The architecture and space are cool to check out, especially for out-of-towners. The wines are pretty easy to drink but all of their wines are on the pricier side, and one can probably find similar wines at a lower price.

Darioush Winery
4240 Silverado Trl

Napa, CA 94558
(707) 257-2345

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Caymus Vineyards (Napa Valley)

The first stop of our Napa Valley wine tour was Caymus Vineyards in Rutherford. I know Caymus makes great wines but I didn't really know much about them. The only time I have had Caymus wine was a few years back at a friend's wedding. I don't remember which vintage I had (there were a lot of wines flowing that night lol) but I just remember that it had a very unique taste and reminded me of roasted coffee beans. I remember liking it so I was looking forward to trying it again.

As we pulled up to the tasting room, it looked very rustic with vines covering the building. The tasting area wasn't very big inside but we were told that there were other tasting rooms in the building. We did the $15 tasting, which included a selection of wines from the Wagner Family of Wines (with different members of the family directing the different labels) and not just from Caymus. We started with the Mer Soleil 2010 Silver, Unoaked Chardonnay, which comes from Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County. I've never never had unoaked wines before and the Chardonnay was extremely light and crisp, vs. the more buttery texture that I've often found in other Chardonnays. The second wine we had was the Belle Glos 2009 Pinot Noir. Unfortunately I found that one to be not very memorable.

We quickly continued on to the next wine, the Caymus 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was really excited because I thought this was the wine I had a few years ago and I couldn't wait to drink it again. After a quick sip, I was disappointed... Did I remember wrong or could a different vintage make such a big difference? Don't get wrong, the Cab was delicious but it tasted nothing like I remembered so I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. Just as I thought we were done, the staff pulled out another bottle from behind the counter and asked if we would like to try the 2009 Special Selection Cab. We happily obliged of course. And as I took a whiff of the aroma, I knew that this was the one I had a few years ago and sure enough, one sip brings out the rich, full-bodied flavor with just a hint of coffee (others call it mocha). Now that I've solved the mystery of what I had, I was satisfied... :)

Caymus Vineyards
8700 Conn Creek Rd

Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 967-3010

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Oakville Grocery (Napa Valley) - with Recipe!

Two separate groups of friends were visiting from out of town, and Napa Valley was definitely on their itinerary. I ended up going to Napa Valley twice in one weekend (a record for me lol) but had two extremely fun but completely different experiences. I am going to spend the next few posts on some of the places we visited since it seems that I haven't written about any places in Napa at all.

On my first trip, we started early in the day and had a full day of wine-tastings booked so we didn't really have time to stop for lunch. We just stopped at Oakville Grocery for some quick bites and we were on our way. Oakville Grocery is a cute little market on the way to many of the popular wineries in Napa Valley. It carries a number of gourmet items and it's a great stop to pick up sandwiches, cheeses, etc. if you want to do a picnic. Even though we know their sandwiches are great, we opted for some salads since we wanted something lighter. I got the chicken salad and it was delicious. The chicken was moist and the sauce was pretty light. It was surprisingly filling and I'm glad I loaded up on protein because we had many wine-tastings ahead of us!

I'm also including a recipe in here (first time on my blog!) that I got from Oakville Grocery ( I wanted to find their chicken salad recipe but it wasn't on their website but I saw this chicken skewer recipe that looked really good so I wanted to share with my readers:

Sesame Chicken Skewers

1 lb. boneless, skinless Chicken Breast, cut into 10-12 strips


1/2 cup Buttermilk
1 lg. Egg, beaten
1 tsp. Chili Paste or Hot Sauce
1 tsp. Salt

Dry Ingredients

1 cup all purpose Flour
1/2 cup Pecans, chopped fine
1/2 tsp ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp dried Thyme
1 tsp Paprika
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1/4 cup Black Sesame Seeds

Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup Oakville's Apricot Preserves Seasonal Selection
1/3 cup Oakville's Sherry, Garlic & Herb Mustard

Marinate chicken for up to one hour before cooking.

Skewer each piece lengthwise on bamboo skewers.

Roll marinated chicken in dry ingredients and let stand for 1/2 hour in the refrigerator.

Bake on oiled cookie sheets, turning chicken to coat in oil at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Pulse Dipping Sauce ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve at room temperature.

Oakville Grocery
7856 St. Helena Hwy
Oakville, CA 94562
(707) 944-8802