#NVFF Blogger Tasting with CellarPass

Hello Friends,

I was recently invited by the good people at CellarPass to be one of their ‘Bloggers in the Field’ as part of the 2nd annual Napa Valley Film Festival (#NVFF). CellarPass is a fast-growing online destination where you can explore, book, and share wine country experiences with other enthusiasts. Part of their participation in the #NVFF was back-to-back days of virtual wine tastings with Boisset Family Estate and Mumm Napa. Sarah Elliman of @CellarPass and host Alan Kropf, President of @MutineerMag – a national fine beverage print magazine, kicked off the festivities with Ron Lee of @MummNapaWinery. Mumm Napa, originally founded in the mid-to-late 1980’s by the Champagne House of G.H. Mumm and partners, is a Napa Valley, California producer that specializes in sparkling wines made using the m├ęthode traditionelle process.

 Mumm Napa 2007 Blanc de Blancs

For the event, we poured the Mumm Napa 2007 Blanc de Blancs. This sparkling selection was thoroughly enjoyed by all my guests and paired nicely with our bacon wrapped scallops appetizer. “Quite tasty,” said one of my friends – the Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs is clean and dry and offers refreshing acidity with vibrant green apple and citrus fruit aromas/flavors that are complemented by a touch of yeasty bread and a pinch of lemon peel and mineral in the crisp finish. I saw this selection on “wine searcher” for an average price of $26, which in my opinion, is in the ball-park for a nicely done sparkling wine made using the classic method. If, for some odd reason, you reserve bubbly for special occasions, then I hope you have a lot of special occasions throughout the calendar year. Don’t forget – sparkling wines are affordable and some of the most food-friendly wines you can pour. [Click here to watch the video clip with Ron Lee and host Alan Kropf]

The second wine we poured was the Raymond Vineyards’ 2009 Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Raymond Vineyards was founded in the 1970’s and purchased in 2009 by Jean-Charles Boisset, president of Boisset Family Estates. During the live broadcast, we had an opportunity to meet with Stephanie Putnam, who is the Director of Winemaking at @RaymondVineyard. Stephanie, much like other Napa Valley and Sonoma County wine-growers I’ve had a chance to talk to recently, says the 2012 growing season has been phenomenal. Stephanie commented that, “You really had to work hard to make a bad wine in 2012.” The 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the first wines Stephanie made under the new ownership -- and since the purchase, Stephanie and crew have done things behind the scene in the vineyard and winery to take the wines to the next level.

 Raymond 2009 Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

In the glass, the Raymond Vineyards’ 2009 Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon sports a lovely deep purple color with rich and inviting dark cherry and mixed berry aromas with hints of cedar and sweet spice and just a light dusting of cocoa powder. The palate is smooth, fairly ripe, and fruit-focused with middling acidity, a velvety/rounded texture, delectable tannins and a pleasant medium-length finish. This wine retails for $35 but I’ve seen it in mid $20’s and anything you find between those two price points is fair for the overall quality of the wine in my opinion. [Click here to watch the video clip with Stephanie Putnam and host Alan Kropf]

For day two, we were joined by Jean-Charles Boisset; who sports a personality as bright as the refreshing acidity in the Mumm Napa 2007 Blanc de Blancs mentioned earlier. His company, Boisset Family Estates, is one of the leading family-owned wine companies with some pretty well-known names in its portfolio. We poured the Raymond Vineyards’ 2008 Generations Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Named for the Raymond family's five generations of wine-making in the Napa Valley; the Generations is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the best barrels across several estate sites in St. Helena, Rutherford, and Oakville appellations. The wine offers ripe and inviting up-front dark red fruit with layered flavors and complex nuances with a succulent texture and polished tannins leading to a smooth lasting finish. At 15.6% ABV, it pulls off a wonderful balancing act and opens up nicely after an hour or so decanting.

 Raymond 2008 Generations Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Raymond produced 1,100 cases of this juice and it sells for $85-$100 per bottle. There is no doubt that the juice is tasty, but price becomes personal at this point for some. I know people who will purchase $200 tennis shoes but won't spend over $20 on a bottle of wine. Tip: Over time, I’ve found that the best way to try out more expensive wines is to form a tasting group. Have everyone toss $20-$30 in a hat and share a bottle or two among 4-5 people. There truly is strength in numbers – and the potential for new experiences and delicious wines. In closing, not only were the wines and interviews very good, but all the #NVFF talk about the new wine documentary “Somm”, which traces several aspiring sommeliers, has me eager to see it. Keep an eye out for the new movie and have a grape day. Cheers! [Click here to watch the video clip with Jean-Charles Boisset and host Alan Kropf].

Click here to check out the CellarPass website.

Click here to visit Mumm Napa's website.

Click here to visit Boisset Family Estates' website.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own.

Happy Sipping, my friends ...  from the DC Reflecting Pool! 

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