Thursday, November 1, 2012

Summers Estate Wines, August 24th, 2012

Winery - 5 / Wines - 6
Range:  1 to 9 (9 is best, 5 is average)
Modest winery that maintains the old Napa Valley feel (before bling became popular).

My start to the day was delayed by heavy construction traffic entering the valley, and I was unable to make up any time thereafter.  As I drove down the Carter Cellars’ driveway on the north end of Calistoga (and Napa Valley itself) at 4:45 PM, I wondered what to do next.  It was too early to get dinner, and too late to taste anywhere that closes by 5:00.  Directly across the street was the driveway entrance to Summers Estate Wines, with a closing time of 5:30 neatly printed on the winery’s sign.  Voila!  So, that’s how much planning went into this winery selection.  Sometimes, that’s how your tasting experience in Napa Valley goes.

The entrance to Summers Estate

 After the reserved stuffiness of Opus One, and the intimate tastings at the other two tasting rooms, it was nice to walk up to the tasting room bar and enjoy a very casual wine tasting experience.  From the outside, the building is humble and well-kept (except perhaps for one droopy gutter that gives the false impression of deferred maintenance).  Inside, the tasting room is nicely done in a creamy off-white color, with a large tasting counter in the center of the tasting room.  Around the edge of the room are a couple of tables for a more intimate experience, but I headed for the bar.  The long wall of the tasting room is made up of picture windows and glass patio doors that open onto the backyard, where a few tables are set up for outdoor tasting and picnicking, along with a bocce ball court for working off the picnic.

One of the intimate tasting spots inside Summers Estate tasting room

On the tasting menu are six wines, including whites, roses, and reds.  After all the wines from the day, I opted for just three of the reds.  I started with the 2009 Charbono, followed by the 2008 Zinfandel, and the 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  My favorite was the Cabernet, though the Zinfandel was a close second.  I have only visited two other wineries in Napa Valley where I recall a Charbono being poured: Augist Briggs and Hess Collection.  If you are a fan of this grape, these are the places to look for it.

Based on this experience, I would rate the winery as a 5 and the wines offered as a 6.

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