Sunday we headed off to the Napa Valley for a day of tastings with friends. It was such an unusual day for June. It was actually raining! California does not usually see rain in June but given the drought we are experiencing, every drop we can get is welcome.
We began by sharing a rare and wonderful morning on Howell Mountain barrel tasting with one of our favorites, Jon Jones, owner of Paravel. The Arbiter 2021 Petite Sirah was so delicious out of the barrel. We could have drank it as is. We also tasted a Merlot that was equally as special and we’re just waiting to get our hands on a bottle.
Feeling quite honored to be invited, we followed the barrel tasting with a tasting in Jon’s home. He had made bread the night before and laid out a great tasting for us. Starting off with three Rosés – Cabernet, Syrah, and Zinfandel, each was amazingly different and wonderful to try side by side. We followed the Rosés with a pour of Proprietary Red IV that is truly lush Howell Mountain fruit and offered at an incredible price.
I’ve forgotten in previous posts to mention Paravel’s olive oil. Jon makes a Diamond Mountain that is smooth and soft and a Spring Mountain that has a bit of spice and a slightly bitter finish. We never leave with out a bottle or two.
In the afternoon we headed north of Calistoga to taste at the Spire Collection. The location is pretty darn private, unmarked, tucked into the vineyards between the Palisades and Mount St. Helena. The view from the tasting room into the vineyard, even in the rain, is gorgeous and you can catch sight of jack rabbits, squirrels and hawks on the move through the vines.
The Jackson Family created this collective of small producers, both domestic and international, that make exceptional and sought after wines. Our host Wil recounted a detailed history of wine making, the players, and the landscape. He was unquestionably, a wealth of information.
With some advance direction from the Spire Collection member in our group, Wil had poured 5 wines for us to initially taste, one of which was a blind tasting.
2017 La Jota Cabernet Franc – Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
2012 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon – Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
2013 & 2018 Anakota Montana Cabernet Sauvignon Comparative – Sonoma County
The Blind wine turned out to be La Jota’s 2018 Napa Valley W. S. Keyes Vineyard Merlot. No question, these are all exceptional wines. My favorite was the 2017 Cabernet Franc.
Wil also poured us a taste of The Peake a 2018 Hickinbotham Cabernet Shiraz – McLaren Vale, South Australia. Hickinbotham is the only Australian Vineyard in the collection. It was purchased by the Jackson Family in 2012. Prior to that the Hickinbotham Vineyard grapes were being sold off to the best winemakers in Australia – Penfolds and Eileen Hardy.
Our host, was engaging and eager to match our wine tastes to other wines in the collection. After two hours and so many incredible tastes Wil was still graciously offering but we needed to depart, but not empty handed!
Wil, Thank you so very much!