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Who’s Looking for a GREAT Value Chardonnay???

Good wine isn’t always expensive. The chatter of fine wine needing to cost a lot of money often frustrates me. Do I love some pricey wines? Sure I do. But there is nothing better than finding a well-made wine for a great price!

My latest “find” is from Bouchaine Vineyards & Winery in the Carneros region of Napa Valley. The Carneros AVA is actually located in both Napa and Sonoma counties and has a nice cool climate that suits Burgundian varietals very well. I’ve visited their winery a few times and have tried a lot of their wines, so when I found their 2012 Estate Vineyard Chardonnay for under fifteen bucks, I thought that there must have been something wrong. Thankfully the wine wasn’t wrong … I was! 

This Chardonnay has bright acidity with lots of lime and green apple, a touch of oak and a finish that goes on and on. This is a great example of a Chardonnay that shows it’s true fruit and character at a very affordable price. I’m truly blown away with the value of this elegant wine.

Not only does Bouchaine produce great wines, they also have a very respectable history. Bouchaine Vineyards & Winery is the oldest continually operated winery in the Carneros wine region. The winery itself is lovely, with a big barn-like structure housing the tasting room (a warm, cozy area with a beautiful fireplace). French doors off of the tasting room lead to a beautiful deck and picnic area. Sitting on their deck and enjoying the stunning view of their Carneros vineyards is was the perfect way to end (or begin!) a day of tasting, so be sure to pay them a visit the next time you’re in the Napa area!

Find out more about Bouchaine here:


Looking for a GREAT Napa Syrah???

Oh boy! I opened a bottle of wine last night that I absolutely love!

A few weeks ago a friend brought over a Bedrock Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon and I really enjoyed it. I liked it so much that when I found some Bedrock Syrah for sale I bought a couple of bottles. If only I’d known … I should have grabbed a couple of cases!

Bedrock’s 2012 Hudson Vineyard Syrah is fabulous! The fruit comes from the T and S blocks of the famous Hudson Ranch, which lies in Napa Valley’s Carneros AVA. The purple colored wine has a wonderful nose of smoky meat, violets and ripe red fruit. On the palate are blackberry, cassis, black cherry and licorice. I get some tobacco too! The finish is long with a hint of black olive. There is definitely a lot going on in this complex wine!

While drinking this gem I kept thinking of how it reminds me a lot of a wine from the Northern Rhone.  Well no wonder. After doing some research on the wine I realized that a smidgen of Viognier is added to the Syrah, just as they do in the Northern Rhone’s Côte-Rôtie region.

Considering I’m a huge lover of Rhone Valley wines, it’s not surprising that I’m such a fan of this Napa Syrah. Now I just need to figure out where I can buy some more!

To check out more information on Bedrock Wine Co. and their other wines, click here:

The Carneros Inn and Adastra Wines

I’ve just returned home from my most recent adventure in Napa and Sonoma!  I always have some very memorable tastings, and this trip started with one.

My husband and I stayed in one of the cottages at The Carneros Inn.  We’re long time fans of Plumpjack’s wines and have always wanted to stay at their lovely hotel.  For my birthday celebration we did just that!  The indoor fireplaces and outdoor fire pits do not disappoint! 

Upon arriving at the resort we were seated at their registration desk and offered a glass of Merlot or some hot apple cider.  Duh!  Guess which one we chose????   Assuming that they’d be pouring one of their Plumpjack wines, we were surprised when they began telling us about the Adastra Merlot they were serving.  We loved it!  They offered to check with the winery to see if they had an available time for us to visit them for a taste.  We were in luck and did just that!

Surgeon Chris Thorpe and his Internist wife Naomi Thorpe founded Adastra.   Started as a cattle ranch in 1984, they began planting vines in 1989.  Their son-in-law Edwin Richards joined the team in 1995 as general manager.  They began selling all of their Pinot Noir grapes to Etude in 1997, but began withholding a small amount to make some estate wine beginning in 2002.  They also began farming organically in 2002, becoming certified organic (no easy task) in 2005.  They currently have 20 acres of vines, of which they sell about half of their grapes to other wineries.  Adastra produces about 1500 cases annually.

We arrived at the winery on a cold rainy day.  Dr. Thorpe showed us around, beginning in the barn where we learned some interesting history of the ranch.  We also learned the origin of their name.  Adastra comes from a phrase and sentiment that was loved by Naomi Thorpe’s father.  The quote, “Per aspera, ad astra”, means “Through striving, to the stars”.   It’s certainly appropriate for this winery, which has obviously been a lot of hard work, and produces some lovely wines.

There are other astronomy connections with this winery, including the name of their winemaker. Pam Starr has been Adastra’s consulting winemaker since 1997.  Formally with Spottswoode, Starr also has her own highly respected label, Crocker & Starr.

Thorpe led us from the barn and into his warm, homey kitchen.  We sat at his kitchen table, which sits under stained glass windows and overlooks the gardens, and tasted some wine!

We started with their 2011 N’Oak Chardonnay, which obviously saw no oak.  Still creamy due to lees stirring, this wine has citrus on the nose, and vibrant golden delicious apple on the palate.

Their 2011 Adastra Chardonnay saw 100% French oak, 70% of which was new.  This Chardonnay is made up of 5 different clones and has a lovely lemon curd palate and a long finish.  We bought a couple of bottles of this wine.

Another favorite of mine was the 2011 Adastra Pinot Noir.  Made from 5 clones, including Joseph Swan, Dijon 115, Dijon 777, Pommard and DRC, this wine is lovely with cranberry and forest floor on the palate.

The 2006 Pinot Adastra Proximus Pinot Noir is made from the Pommard, Dijon 777 and Dijon 115 clones.  This is a bigger Pinot with lots of fruit and spice.  My husband really liked this wine.

The wine that we were served at The Carneros Inn was next up to taste!  The 2010 Adastra Merlot had a long hang time, which produced a big, juicy wine.  This Merlot is very easy drinking and has lots of plum and dark cherry on the palate.

Their 2009 Adastra Proximus Merlot spent 2 years in mostly new French oak.  Also loaded with plum and dark fruit, this wine has nice complexity and is well balanced.

The final wine we tried was the 2011 Ed’s Red.  Adastra’s second label, this wine is Edwin Richards’ baby.  It’s a robust wine with lots of cherry and plum, along with a bit of licorice and spice.  The 2011 vintage is a blend of 52% Merlot, 24% Zinfandel, 14% Barbera, 9% Petite Sirah and 1% Syrah.  This wine is widely distributed and can be found in places such as Total Wine.  At $18 retail, it’s a great everyday wine that goes well with many different foods.

To read more about Adastra, check on prices, or to schedule an appointment, here’s their website:

To check out The Carneros Inn:

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