Diary of a Happy Wine Woman – Part 1

V Sattui, St. Helena, 2012

I am a little behind on my daily post because I spent my weekend in Wine Country… yes, the legendary Napa Valley, CA. And now I am in Jacksonville, FL- but more on that later. Back to the wine.

The main purpose of heading up to Napa was a friend’s wedding… and a fun wedding it was at that.

While I was there, I wanted to take advantage of what wineries I could squeeze in between wedding activities and travel. While I was able to stop in and look at several of the winery properties, there were only three tastings I attended- and all of them were fantastic experiences.


Darioush Entrance, Napa, CA 2012

Mr. Darioush Khaledi is actually a client of mine here in LA, so when he mentioned that should I ever be in Napa I would be treated to a private tour and tasting- I was sure to let him know I would be in Napa! Mr. Khaledi is probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet- he also enjoys life and wine, and wants others to feel the same. Upon entering the stone gates of Darioush, one feels a sense of what life must be like for Egyptian royalty, as if you were entering into a sacred museum. The distinctively Persian decor and towering corinthian columns welcome you into Darioush’s opulent tasting room.

We were greeted by Jonathan- a knowledgable and friendly host, who would proceed us through our tasting. In the hour or so we were there, we were able to sample a few of Darioush’s wines.

**WARNING** I am not a wine writer (yet!). I do not have the distinctive and selective wine vocabulary one must have for tasting notes. I also didn’t take any notes… so take my review with a grain of salt!

Here is how I taste wine. First, I will drink it all- usually 🙂 Also, I will use one to two terms to describe it. Again, I do not use typical wine vocabularly, so I hope I don’t offend you wine snobs. Here are the wines and my tasting memories:

2010 Darioush Signature Chardonnay * Napa Valley  : Not as winey, tastes nice.

2011 Darioush Signature Viognier * Napa Valley : Refreshing. Gentle flavor.

2009 Darioush Signature Shiraz * Napa Valley : Toes (someone’s toes)

2008 Darioush Signature Merlot * Napa Valley: Camping. Farm fresh.

2008 Darioush Signature Cabernet Sauvignon * Napa Valley : I can’t remember my notes on this one

2006 Late Harvest Shahpar : Liquid honey

Taking the last glass along for the ride, we headed into the barrel room, below the property, where Jonathan showed us the barrels, the unique touches Darioush added to the property- from the original volcanic rock wall, to the skylight/tasting room coffee table. Overall, it was a pleasant tour with friends.



Matriarch, Harlan 2007

I was able to arrange (and come to find out later, a near impossible feat) a private tasting with Jason of Harlan Estate and BOND Estates. According to my friend and winemaker, the Aussie, Bill Harlan is revolutionizing wine making.

The Philosophy

“If we can enrich people’s lives, and just maybe inspire them to do something beyond what they might otherwise have done, that brings us great satisfaction. Our purpose is to help our patrons to have an even more enjoyable and healthy life.”

—H. William Harlan

Wines from Harlan START at $299 retail and go up from there. Everything (while on site at Harlan) is rated- the barrels are rated and only the ‘A’ grade wine makes the cut.

I was a bit skeptical pulling up the the stone building, as it resembled a residence more than a tasting room or winery. I wasn’t sure if this was the place. We were the only vehicle that I could see, and the only ones touring the facility. But there was Jason, who welcomed us with Krug Champagne, as he began describing the Grand Crus of the Bond Estates.

As Jason guided us around the property, we were able to taste the first wine from Mr. Harlan’s new winery… Promontory (you can read more about it here)- 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. It tasted like the inside of the smell of a ski lodge. I know, I am random.

We were able to see the gorgeous, cedar-planked barrel barn, taste from the barrel (now I am wishing I had brought a notebook!) the fermentation room with their massive (and extremely clean) concrete conical fermentation tanks, and topographical maps of the unique sloping properties Mr. Harlan acquired for the perfection of his craft.

We returned to the gorgeous stained-wood and stone tasting room, where Jason had several wines available for tasting:

BOND Matriarch my favorite

Harlan The Maidenalso yummy and barrelly

BOND Quella – I can’t remember my notes, but I kept wanting to sing, “Under my Unquella, quella” and “Quella deVille”

BOND St. Eden – my other favorite

All reds, all amazing.

I know I should be able to distinguish them… but I can say they were all good- very good- and all of them had a similar ‘barrel’ taste to them- would that be oaky? And I think Aussie mentioned ‘soft tannins’ for which I agreed.

Thank goodness my traveling partner was a wine maker himself. I am so wine-uneducated and this tour of the Harlan/BOND wine collection (as I am learning) is of cult proportions, I was so grateful that he was there to appreciate the magnitude of our experience. And introduce me to the experience. I felt honored to have this wine tasting opportunity and feel that my descriptions can do no real justice to the level and quality of wine we tasted.

Since I have written quite a bit here- I will save my two other special tastings and some interesting wedding experiences in my next couple of blog posts!


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