Saturday, February 03, 2007

Day trip to Napa Valley

Yesterday I left with a friend for a day trip to Napa Valley. We had a fantastic day with great food and wine, and here is the story...
We started of with a stop at the Cosentino Winery where we got free tasting, as I am a wine club member. Jeff, who poured for us, were very knowledgeable and great to discuss the wines with. My two favorite wines their were pouring was the 2005 CE2V Napa Valley Chardonnay (a fresh, fruity, round, Chardonnay with just a hint of creaminess and oak) and the 2002 M. Coz Napa Valley (a big, fruity, well balanced Meritage). A fun little story that Jeff shared with us that I was not aware of is that the M. Coz label is the shape of Napa Valley and the dots represents the location of the vineyards the wine is from. I love to learn little tidbits like this one...

The Demonstration Room at CIA

Moving on we had reservations at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone for their Demonstration Class. It is only $15 and you get to sit down for a one hour demonstration performed by a professional chef, ask as many questions as you want, and then taste the result. Yesterdays course was Marinated Flank Steak with Horseradish and Green Peppercorn Mayonnaise. This was a lot of fun and the food was delicious. Everybody gets a copy of the recipe so you can make it on your own at home. I know I will!

The finished dish and recipe

After a quick snack it was time for more wine tasting. We went just across the street from the Culinary Institute to Charles Krug. My friend is a wine club member there. So again a free tasting. They had a new release event going on and there were a little bit over 10 wines to try, so a lot of tasting, but I wasn't one to complain. The tasting staff here was one of the best I have come across during my many trips to Napa Valley. They shared a ton of information with us about the rich history of the winery, which is the oldest winery in Napa Valley, dating back all the way to 1861. Read more about it at They also took time to discuss the growing season,the wine making process, and of course the wine itself. Very educating in a great, friendly environment!
We had a wonderful time at this tasting and all the wines were fantastic. My favorites were the 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley (a crisp, lively, fruity wine perfect for hot summer days), the 2002 Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (wonderful dark heavy fruit and berries with some earthiness and great tannin structure), and the 2003 Limited Release IX Clones Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (same great qualities as the 2002 Limited Release Cab.) They also poured a real treat for us, the 1979 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark red, brick color in the glass and to my surprise, some really nice fruit still present. This was a great example of a wine that really has aged well. Yummy!

Me and the Charles Krug 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon

My friend, Robyn, in front of the restaurant at CIA

At this point it was time to go to the Culinary Institute again. We had a 5 pm reservation at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant. We decided to do a wine flight with dinner. There was about 5 different ones to choose between, all with different themes. I love wine flight as it is a great way of sampling several wines you might not have had before. For starter we did the sampler with five different small items. A Cracker with Fromage Blanc, a Cauliflower Soup with Red Pepper Oil, a Croustini with Fois Gras and Pickled Pears, a Shrimp Wrapped in Fried Strings of some kind, and finally a Fried Pocket with Short Ribs, Salsa Verde and Micro Greens. A delicious sampler!
I had the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes and Caramelized Cipollini Onions for main course and then ended the meal with their Molten Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream. Over all a great meal and dining experience.

Molten Chocolate Cake Dessert

Dinner was over and it was time to head home after a great day. We promised each other to return real soon.

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Sonadora said...

Sounds like such a wonderful day...great food and wine, who could ask for more in one day?? Was the steak hard to make?

Victoria said...

Thanks for your comment! The steak was a piece of cake to make. Marinated for a couple of hours in olive oil, lemon juice, cracked fennel seeds and black peppar, garlic, shallots and thyme. Then on tha BBQ until medium rare. Let it rest for 10 minmutes then slice against the grain. Yummy!

Adrianne said...

Sounds like you had a great day. I will be heading up for a day trip with my fiance, weekend after next. I haven't decided where I want to go as there are so many wineries to choose from. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Victoria said...

Thanks for your comment. There are a lot of great wineries to visit, and it is always hard to choose. One that we visited about two years ago, that has an awesome tour is Del Dotto winery. They have a tour where you get to do barrel tasting in their caves of different grapes ageing in different oak. It is a great way to really taste the difference between wines aged in French, American, new, old oak, etc... And then at the end of the tour you get to taste their finished product served with some cheese, cackers and chocolate. You have to make reservations ahead of time. And make this your final stop. There is a lot of wine to taste and you easily get pretty tipsy...
Enjoy your trip!