Caldwell Vineyard is about a 45 minute drive from our home in Danville. It is proudly perched on 123 rolling acres of serene beauty and post card like majestic vistas overlooking the rich Napa Valley. The elegant wine tasting, done in the caves, includes a wide variety of cheeses, meats and crackers to enhance the wine tasting experience. It was 100 degrees outside the day we choose to taste, so the caves were a 'cool' way to taste the wonderful Caldwell wines.
Our host Cristina was very knowledgeable and passionate about the 28 different clone-specific grape varieties and the 23 wines that Caldwell makes. We began with a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc that was very refreshing and paired well with the Ewephoria cheese that was my favorite (Whole Foods sells it locally). The 2014 Chardonnay and 2014 Syrah Rose were a great way to cool down from the sizzling outside temperature. The 2012 Gold 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon was sensational and silky smooth. We also tried the 2012 Cabernet Franc and Tannat that is a favorite of many loyal wine club members.
Our favorite was the 2012 Carmenere that is deep in color, with tannins gentler and softer then the Cabernet, and is a medium bodied wine. This wine has a cherry like fruity flavor with smoky, spicy and earthy notes. Carmenere grapes have an interesting history. The origins go to the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France. The vines were struck with the Phylloxera plague and for many years the grape was presumed extinct. It was so good we took 2 bottles back to Danville with us.
The highlight of the tasting was when owner John Caldwell joined us. He is a high energy guy with a zest for life. His tales of how he smuggled many of these varietal vines from France is worth going to the website (www.caldwellvineyard.com) to read the Smuggling Story. Caldwell is also one of the first U.S. wineries with its own on-site barrel cooperage that produces their own French Oak wine barrels.
He said, "I love to be a part of the private tastings and share the interesting stories, love of the property and wide variety of wines." His passionate personality makes you understand the high quality reflected in all of his wines.
After the tasting, we enjoyed lunch at the nearby bustling Rutherford Grille where every day is like a Saturday night at most other restaurants.
There are no reservations and it is always full of happy foodies and wine lovers. When you enter the restaurant the smell of their favorite knife and fork baby back ribs gets your food senses tingling. They are served with cole slaw and fries. That is always my choice but all their food is great. They also serve generous pours of wines by the glass and reasonably priced bottles. The bar usually has open seats and it is a fun place to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
For a special cave tasting and great food, we would highly recommend Caldwell Vineyard and Rutherford Grille.
To make a reservation go to: CaldwellVineyard.com