Day One: It was a beautiful Tuesday morning and I was excited to start our Napa Valley experience with everything Rudd. We made our way to the Rudd Oakville Estate where we were greeted and taken on a wonderful tour. The Estate grounds are beautiful and gave off a persona of rustic chic. Below the pristinely kept gardens of this Estate are 22,000 square feet subterranean caves that are exquisitely styled giving off that rustic chic sophistication. The caves had a main area that was large with long tables cut from trees that must easily sit 50 people at one time. Beyond these impressive tables was a glass wall with a large glass doors, and through this glass you could see luxurious furnishings and an inviting sitting area with couches and beautifully appointed chairs. It appeared to me that this must be Mr. Leslie Rudd private wine cellar within the caves, as it proudly displayed previously enjoyed bottles. As I looked through the glass like a kid outside a candy store wanting to go in, I noticed a bottle of 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild prominently displayed. After a few moments of looking through the glass we were taken back upstairs to enjoy some wine.
The tasting room was appointed perfectly with that same rustic sheik charm. Presented for our enjoyment were three spectacular wines, of which two were their fine Cabernet Sauvignon blends that this estate is well known for. As we were enjoying our tasting of these outstanding wines executive Chef Jon Brzycki was preparing a personalized lunch for us to enjoy with the Rudd Oakville Estate wines. When lunch was ready we were escorted outside to a beautiful setting overlooking the vineyards. Here we enjoyed the Rudd Mt. Veeder Sauvignon Blanc with Heirloom Tomato Galette baked in a wood burning oven. The crispness of this wine blended nicely with the first course and set the mood for an enjoyable lunch. We were then treated to Sonoma Breast of Duck that was pan seared with dried figs and fresh rosemary that paired spectacularly with the two Cabernet Sauvignon blends, Samantha’ Cabernet Sauvignon & Rudd Oakville Estate Red. To conclude this ever so tasty lunch we indulged in Buttermilk Panna Cotta with fresh berries that had a lemon leaf herb. This sweet delight actually harmonized with the Rudd Oakville Estate Red, as the herbal qualities from the lemon herb brought forth the terroir notes of the Cabernet Sauvignon.
2013 Rudd Mt. Veeder Sauvignon Blanc Location: Napa Valley, California Blend: 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Semillon, 7% Sauvignon Gris
This gorgeous white wine had a fantastically aromatic floral bouquet of crisp pears, grapefruit, soft white pepper, and a touch of guava. The wine is beautifully balanced and displays a brightness of acidity with a nice fresh finish giving off hints of nuts and honeysuckle on the back end. This is a lovely wine that has an old world Bordeaux style and sophistication to it, and is something wonderfully special. Highly Recommended!
2011 Samantha’ Cabernet Sauvignon Location: Napa Valley, California Blend: 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec
The wine was a dark opaque purple color with hues of red. Wafting from the glass was a rich concentration of ripe dark blackberries, cassis fruit, currants, toasted oak, minerals, and exotic spice. The wine was medium ++ in body with silky but chewy tannins that gave way to a long finish displaying hints of mixed black and red berries, black licorice, oak, and earthy minerals. This wine continued to evolve and mature in my glass and had supple hints of sweetness blended with the earthiness of the wine. This wine is a classic California styled Cabernet Sauvignon with just a hint of old world influence. The wine is well made and is drinking wonderfully right now; however, with a little patience this wine should continue to mature and blossom in the next 5 to 8 years. Highly Recommended!
2011 Rudd Oakville Estate Red Location: Napa Valley, California Blend: 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot
This is my style of wine! The wine was opaque reddish color with purple hues and displayed an alluring bouquet with notes of dense cassis fruit, fleshy black berry fruits, toasted herbs, wet asphalt, and dusty earth. The wine was medium ++ in body with smooth but structured tannins that gave way to a luxurious finish giving off hints of concentrated red and black fruits, olive paste, exotic spices, and soft expressive dusty earth. The wine is brilliantly balanced and comes across more like a fine Bordeaux wine than what you would expect from Napa, California. The wine is complex with layers of rich fruit flavors harmoniously blended with sexy dusty terroir nuances. This is probably the best 2011 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon blend I have tasted for the vintage, as 2011 was a difficult year and tested the skills of the winemakers. This wine requires patience and should be cellared for several years and enjoyed when it reaches its plateau of maturity, anticipated within the next 6 years or so and should continue drinking beautiful till 2028. Highly Recommended!
Day Two: Another beautiful day in Napa and we had the entire day to ourselves, as the Rudd experience would continue at PRESS for dinner that night. Knowing that our Chef’s Tasting Menu at PRESS would include wines selected by their Sommelier, we decided to keep things on the light side and only ventured out for a few tastings at other wineries. I found myself enjoying these other wineries; however, Rudd Oakville Estate had spoiled me with their prestigious exclusive wines the day before leaving the bar set just out of reach for these other wineries.
PRESS is a farm to table concept featuring the finest produce and highest quality cuts of meat, seafood, and poultry. I didn’t know what to expect as I got mixed reviews from others whom I told I was going to have dinner here. Understand that I’m all about the wine, and the wine we were served was nothing short of excellence and did enhance the culinary experience. However, the farm to table concept is truly taken seriously at PRESS. The first course was a huge tray filled with crushed ice and assorted raw vegetables and some dipping sauces. It was prestigiously presented and articulately introduced, but was still just some raw veggies with dipping sauce. Everything after this was wonderfully done and I enjoyed it immensely, as the food continued to escalate to a new level with each course. We were served a total of six different wines, and they were all spectacular and complimented this fine dining experience.
Day Three: The days just seem to keep getting better and better, as we ventured forth to Edge Hill “The Celebrated Vineyards” and a Historic Winery establish in 1867. This off the path Estate is not opened to the public and we were delighted to have an opportunity to not only experience this fantastic property but to taste their extraordinary wines. The architecture of this property seems to blend effortlessly with its surroundings and nature. Old historic buildings have been elevated to pristine conditions embracing that rustic chic theme we had come to expect from Rudd.
Leslie & Susan Rudd became the new stewards of Edge Hill in 1999. As they began the long road of restoration to the estate they discovered a building, Registered Distillery No. 209 on the property. Thus not only has the Rudd Family embraced and are continuing to restore Edge Hill but also resurrected the “Gin” No. 209 Distillery that is now located on Pier 50 in San Francisco. This property is rich with history and the legacy lives on through its wines.
We were treated to three wines that were enjoyed in the Registered Distillery No. 209 building with a picnic lunch provided by Oakville Grocery, also owned by the Rudd Family. Winemaker & Estate Manager, Anthony Weytjens sent me a kind email that he would be unable to get together due to timing with respect to winemaking / harvest duties and pressing of grapes that required his attention. However, he saw that we were well taken care of by his associate Cheryl whom hosted us.
This enchanting Estate has a brilliant peacefulness about it, and a nature blending with luxury feel that adds to the ambience. This is truly a hidden gem that is being given extraordinary attention with respect to restoration. The wines from Edge Hill are equally classical with its Bacigalupi Chardonnay being harvest from 50 year old vines that were part of the famous Chardonnay upset at the French 1967 Paris Tasting that stole the show and won.
2012 Edge Hill Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay Location: Napa Valley, California Blend: 100% Chardonnay
This exquisite Chardonnay is sourced from the Bacigalupi Vineyard in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. These vines are over 50 years old and only 414 cases of this Chardonnay were produced. The wine was crisp with enticing aromas of hazelnut, soft peach, minerals, and a hint of freshly cut grass. The wine is spectacularly balanced with a crisp but elegantly light buttery palate displaying notes of peach, star fruit, oak, and river rocks. The wine is complex with rich undertones that blend comfortably with the acidity and are harmoniously balanced. This is a refined elegant Chardonnay that does not disappoint. Highly Recommended!
2010 Edge Hill Abel 1833 Cabernet Sauvignon Location: Napa Valley, California Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon
This deep dark opaque purple wine was forwardly expressive with a concentrated bouquet of blackberries, cassis fruit, currents, smoldering wet herbs, smoky oak, exotic spices, and dusty earth. The wine was full bodied with a wonderfully dusty palate giving off hints of red currents, blackberries, blueberries, plum, licorice, herbs, and soft minerals. This brilliantly powerful wine is poised with balance and structure that adds to its complexity. The exotic fleshy fruit of this cab harmonized nicely with its dusty terroir notes and is quite exquisite. This is an unbelievably wonderfully crafted wine that has a brilliantly structure tannic backbone, enabling this wine to continue evolving for another 15 years. The wine is drinking phenomenally great right now but should only get better with some time. Highly Recommended!
2012 Edge Hill Mixed Blacks Location: Napa Valley, California Blend: Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, Carignane, Zinfandel, Grenache, and Alicante Bouschet
Don’t take my word on the grape varietals “blend” listed herein above, as I’m only going from memory when I should have written it down. The wine was opaque purple in color with red hues. This wine had a muscular yet elegant bouquet giving off aromas of stone black fruit, licorice, burnt sugar, cassis liquor, and a hint of barnyard. The wine was medium + in body with integrated silky tannins that led to an expressive finish with hints of black cherry, plum, blackberry, tobacco, exotic spices, and minerals. This wine is beautiful seductive with its complex layers of fruit and intriguing minerality. The wine is delicately bold and fruit forward with concentrated aromas and flavors with just a touch of old world charm in the construction of this beauty. Highly Recommended!