While at Alpha Omega Winery that first afternoon in Napa, it had been recommended that we visit a boutique winery called b Cellars. Especially to taste their Sangiovese. So, naturally I called and made a booking to go see what they were all about.
One of the draws to this winery is the experience they create. When you walk up the walkway towards the showroom you are welcome to a view of the rolling hills surrounding the vineyard and the hospitality house sitting atop the hill. When you open the doors, you are greeted instantly and look at the spectacular view of a brick oven and open kitchen. As part of the tour they provide a food accompaniment, and do cater to dietary restrictions. There are small dining tables, low chairs and tall tables spread throughout the space to cater to different party sizes. There are also tables set up outside for those sunny California days. It is a wonderfully open space that provides views outdoors and indoors to the kitchen. For larger groups, there are two rooms in the hospitality house for tastings with that classic rustic feel.
Our small group of four gathered together with our tour guide Chris. To start, we had a glass of their Chardonnay/ Sauvignon Blanc/ Viognier blend. A delicate white wine that offered vibrant acidity, tropical and stone fruits with a slight floral quality. With this wine we were given an amuse bouche of fresh watermelon, which paired beautifully to start off the tour. Walking around the side of the open kitchen our glasses were topped with Sauvignon Blanc for the walk around the vineyard. It was bright and fresh, very vibrant with the slightest hint of effervescence to tickle the palate.
Chris shared with us the story of the vineyard, the history of the land, and philosophy of the winery. We walked around the back of the hospitality house and got a wonderful view of the rolling hills – some still used as pastures and some used for the vineyard. Taking the path to the caves we passed by the garden where the chef grows seasonal vegetables and fruits to use in the taste kitchen. Just one aspect of how the vineyard practices sustainability.
The path past the garden connects directly with the caves. Large doors stood open for us with candles along the path – this was due to the power outage parts of Napa experienced that day from the high winds. The caves are always one of my favourite aspects of a winery. It is here you can smell the wine, the oak barrels are as fragrant in the open as they perfume the wine that is ageing inside them. b Cellars has no lack of storage space, and have even utilized the uniqueness of their cave – built into one of the hills surrounding the property – to offer two tasting rooms. Built further into the hill is a large space that is still undergoing construction. When complete this will be a space for larger parties and house b Cellars library. Across from the glass doored entrance to this space is large barn doors held open for light, but a perfect grand entrance!
Leaving the caves behind us, we walk back up to the front entrance of the hospitality house. Inside the tables have been set up for each individual party size. Four glasses set at each seat. We take our seats and Chris comes by with the first wine. The Sangiovese. This was the one I was most looking forward to tasting. Estate grown grapes, passed through Petite Sirah grapes to gain more colour and depth of flavour, obviously through the nose and palate. Flavours of blueberry, tobacco, basil, vanilla on the nose and red current, bright red cherry, blueberry, tobacco, a slight raisonated quality, and dried orange peel. Definitely more fruit forward than a typical Italian Sangiovese, but still holding true to the grape characteristics.
The second wine was a Cabernet/Sangiovese/Syrah blend. Slightly darker in colour and offering richer flavours lended from the Cab and Syrah of tar, leather, cherry, black current, and Cassis. The palate was rich with tannin that formed the classic square for Cabernet dominant wines. Oak was at the forefront with vanilla, cedar, tar and leather, Cassis and cherry followed. Returning to the wine after allowing it to breath slightly was notes of dried apricot and date. A delicious full-bodied and full-flavoured wine.
At this point a charcuterie board was brought to the table as an accompaniment to the wines. Normally the open kitchen would provide a full tasting spectrum, but the power outage severely limited this possibility. The selection of sheep, goat and cow cheeses as well as the prosciutto and summer sausage paired delicately with each wine.
Blend 25 was the following wine. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Syrah offering notes of strawberry, fig, tar, leather, bluberry, tennis ball, pepper. This was followed by the almost opaque Rutherford Cabernet. More vegetal in nature with notes of green pepper, tomato, and roasted red pepper. Followed by Cassis, blackberry, rosemary, oak and vanilla.
The experience at b Cellars was spectacular. Great food and attention grabbing wines all complimented by charming employees. A winery that lives up to its high recommendations!
Thank you to b Cellars for allowing me to use your amazing images throughout this post.