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Napa, November 2007


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Some of you noticed I was in Napa a couple of weeks ago for 5 days of eating and tasting my way through the area. As usual, we had a blast. I forget just how beautiful the area is and am reminded every time I go back when I'm greeted with seemingly unending vineyards and valley and mountain scapes. I felt lucky to wake up each morning in Yountville. Below is a quick photo tour of some of our highlights.

Restaurants:

Bistro Jeanty -

As usual, Bistro Jeanty was lively, loud, and fun in a great, old-school French way. Our server was pretty bad, but the kickass busboy made up for his typical absence. The bone marrow with toast and bordelaise was the highlight of the meal but the dining room was too dark to really capture most of the meal.

Daily Specials

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Crudite

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Terra -

Terra, unlike Bistro Jeanty, is so quiet you can hear a pin drop. This was our first time to the restaurant. The wine list was approachable and we had a great conversation with the Somm about a bottle of 2006 Araujo Sauvignon Blanc we ordered. My sweetbreads were outstanding but I thought the endive was a bit overpowering for the delicate texture and flavor.

Terra Menu

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Carpacio of Hamachi

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Miso-Glazed Black Cod in Shiso Broth

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Skewis Pinot Noir with Dinner

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Bouchon -

I know Bouchon has taken some beatings lately at the hands of mixed reviews, but I can't really say enough good things about this restaurant. Everything we had was delicious. Service was perfect.

Bouchon Restaurant

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Cocktail Menu

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Oysters

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Salmon Tartare

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Frisee Salad with Poached Egg

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Steak Frites

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Passionfruit Jelly

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Bouchon Bakery -

Again, as with Bouchon, I think the bakery has also taken some beatings by way of poor reviews. As with the restaurant, I can't really say anything bad. The ham and cheese croissant, grilled in a press, is my favorite breakfast.

Morning Case

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Morning Case 2

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Redd -

Redd is my wife's favorite, and after eating there again it's obvious why they received that star. They're really on point and offer a refreshing and modern take on food in the mostly French-influenced Napa Valley. The pork belly is as close to a perfect dish as I can imagine.

The Restaurant

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Pork Belly with Burdock and Soy Caramel

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Tuna & Hamachi Tartare with Sticky Rice

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Dessert

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Wineries:

Shafer -

Shafer was an interesting experience. Most of our tastings were at smaller, lesser-known wineries. Shafer gave us the full-blown winery and tour experience. Their grounds are unbelievably beautiful. The winery is modern and clean and the famous hillside vineyards are exciting to see in person. We tasted through all of the current offerings, with a bonus 1993 Hillside Select. Scrumptious. Drink 'em if you got 'em. The 1993 is in perfect shape.

Shafer Winery

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Tasting with John Shafer

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Lamborn -

Lamborn is a relatively obscure winery at the top of Howell. They're known mostly for an estate Zinfandel they've been doing for awhile, but they're now on their second vintage of Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon made by Heidi Barrett.

Lamborn Entry

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Tasting with Mike Lamborn

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2005 Lamborn Zinfandel

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Lamborn Cabernet Sauvignon (2004, Vintage II)

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Seavey -

Seavey continues to remain one of our all-time favorites. Philippe Melka has consulted with them for over 10 years now and that little mountain vineyard of theirs produce some of the most concentrated and amazing juice in the area. The Merlot is outstanding and the estate Cabernet Sauvignon is top notch. If you can get your hands on that Chardonnay, I highly recommend it.

Seavey's Original Farmhouse Structure

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Mary Seavey

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Bill Seavey

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Seavey Barrel Room

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Pina -

Pina got some recent press when their 2004 Buckeye (Howell) vineyard scored a whopping 94-points from Robert Parker. Lucky for us we've been buying since the 2001 vintage and we're now stacked with a ton of bottles from their original vineyards and their newer properties in Yountville and Rutherford. Too bad for us the winemaker through the 2006 vintage, Ted Osbourne, was let go. I don't know what happened, but it seems to be a sore subject. Check out Ted's new project, Olabisi. Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, and old-vine Zinfandel. They're scrumptious and affordable.

Chuck from Pina (now also making his own wine under Trahan label)

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Pina Barrels

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Clark-Claudon -

We discovered Clark-Claudon when Mike from Hi-Time Cellars recommended the 2002 vintage to us last year. It's truly great stuff. Tom Clark and Laurie Claudon are awesome. Ex-hippy peace corps types. Plus, they make beautiful wine.

Tom Clark Sampling the 2006 from Barrel

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Entry to the Miner Family Caves, where Clark-Claudon is Barrel Aged

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Neal Family -

Neal is my buddy's favorite winery in the area so we paid tribute to him by visiting for a tasting with the winemaker. The two single-vineyard wines we tasted (Chafen & Wykoff) were off the charts. Plus, we learned about their software solutions to vineyard management. Talk about hi-tech.

The Winery

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Cleaning the 2007 Fermentation tanks

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Neal Caves

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Keever

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Unfortunately we didn't get any real usable photos from our tasting at Keever, Cloud View, or Olabisi. I'm sure you're punch drunk as it is from the mountain of photos posted above.

Edited by SiseFromm (log)

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Great report, Jason! Napa is always fun to visit and you seem to have made the best of it. It has been a few years since I stepped back from intensely studying the world of small production wineries. I had previously been buying a lot of wine and was into knowing all the top small scale producers. That was truly dizzying as world-wide production of top quality wine has grown so much and the costs with it. Your report reminded me why I got into that in the first place - it looked like it was tremendous fun!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Great report, Jason! Our annual trip to Napa/Sonoma is looming so your post got me excited. My wife and I both love Terra and Bouchon, so it's good to hear that you had good meals there. I'm with you on Bouchon. I don't doubt that aspects of the restaurant might have suffered, but I've never experienced that. I've been meaning to try Redd for some time and it's now a must-do. Thanks for the report on the wineries, as well. I assume most, if not all, the wineries were by appointment only, no? I'll definitely have to check out a few of them.

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I think every one of our major winery visits were by appointment, but they weren't tough appointments to acquire. They just took some diligence on our part during planning. We booked two to three appointment-only wineries each day and left the rest of the day open for random stops. Just Google search the name of the winery and shoot the contacts an email or call by phone and I'm sure you'll be golden. I HIGHLY recommend stopping by Seavey. Keever in Yountville is newer and another one you shouldn't miss. Their 2006 Sauvignon Blanc is $18 and worth every penny. Unfortunately they only produced around 60 cases so bottle sales are limited to two. A massive bouquet of tropical fruit leaps from the glass.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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I didn't actually write anything up on our visits to Ubuntu, Cloud View, Keever, Dean & Deluca, Chateau Montelena, CIA @ Greystone, or Farm @ Carneros Inn. I have a ton of additional photos of food, environment, and wineries, but I tried to keep it short and sweet and to let the pics do most of the talking.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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WOW!! We have lived in Yountville part-time since '03, and you've given us some new stops along the wine trail! Great report!

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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I didn't actually write anything up on our visits to Ubuntu, Cloud View, Keever, Dean & Deluca, Chateau Montelena, CIA @ Greystone, or Farm @ Carneros Inn.  I have a ton of additional photos of food, environment, and wineries, but I tried to keep it short and sweet and to let the pics do most of the talking.

JASON, WHAT'S STOPPING YOU??

Keep writing, and get those pictures to keep talking!! :wink::wink:

Short & sweet? Personally, I wouldn't mind long and savory ... :raz:

And how much did you buy at Dean & Deluca?

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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JASON, WHAT'S STOPPING YOU??

Keep writing, and get those pictures to keep talking!!

Well . . . in that case, here are some more random pics:

Bouchon: Mac and Cheese Gratin

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Bouchon: Justin & Melissa

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Bouchon: Holly & Jason

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Bouchon Bakery: Snacks for a day of Tasting (Sandwiches, Croissant, Cheese Danish, Cashew Nut Butter & Jam Sandwich on Brioche)

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Bistro Jeanty: Roasted Bone Marrow with Toasts and Bordelaise

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Bistro Jeanty: Steak Tartare with Chicken Egg Yolk, Toasts, and Fries

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Terra: Ravioli with Ricotta, Lemon, Chanterelles, and Pumpkin Tempura

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Terra: 2006 Aurajo Sauvignon Blanc

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Terra: Lobster Special (I forget what was with this one)

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Redd: Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree

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Redd: Hamachi Sashimi with Soy Beans and Cucumber

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Redd: 2006 Troup de Bonde Grenache Blanc (Tasty!)

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Shafer: Part of the infamous Shafer Hillside Vineyards for the "Select" Designate Wine

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Seavey: 2004 Seavey Merlot

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Carneros Inn: Tattinger Chair

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Carneros Inn: Lounging with Champagne by the Fire

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R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Farm was an experience mostly for our travel companions since they were guests for the week at Carneros Inn. We stopped in and I perused the menu and wine list. I didn't feel there was anything spectacular at work, but it did seem like a nice atmosphere and we heard good things about the food. While they were eating at Farm, we were at Ubuntu. I wouldn't trade that for anything. Ubuntu was exciting and new and fresh and Farm seems to be serving up more of the same.

btw, the 2004 Seavey Cabernet also got a 94 from Mr. Parker

Did it? Interesting. I can see why. They were also pouring the 2000 from the "library". Get some while you can. It's on their website I see. We have a ton of the 1998 and it's also drinking well.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Jason, I am curious about that Pork Belly you had at Redd, based on the picture it looks like it was served in slices as opposed to the usual blocks?

It is definitely one of my favorite things and I have never seen a presentation like that.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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That pork belly from Redd is really something else. It's braised, crisped for service, then sliced. It is served with burdock root, frissee, brasing liquid, apple, chive, and "soy caramel". I'm really not sure where the "soy caramel" is, but I know the flavors in that dish are haunting and deep and have a long, lingering finish. I paired it with a Grenache from Spain and I thought it matched well. An earthy Pinot Noir might play off the burdock. When we went to Redd within a month of opening a couple of Decembers ago we had this same dish. I don't believe it's changed at all in that time. It's a house dish and the bartender says it will never go away.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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That pork belly from Redd is really something else.  It's braised, crisped for service, then sliced.  It is served with burdock root, frissee, brasing liquid, apple, chive, and "soy caramel".  I'm really not sure where the "soy caramel" is, but I know the flavors in that dish are haunting and deep and have a long, lingering finish.  I paired it with a Grenache from Spain and I thought it matched well.  An earthy Pinot Noir might play off the burdock.  When we went to Redd within a month of opening a couple of Decembers ago we had this same dish.  I don't believe it's changed at all in that time.  It's a house dish and the bartender says it will never go away.

Wow, that sounds amazing, definitely different from your typical belly presentation. As far as "soy carmel" goes it sounds simliar to what Sam Mason at Tailor in NYC does, his presentation is with a "butterscotch miso"

Very interesting, thanks for the clarification, my mouth is watering.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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