Wednesday, February 5, 2014

V. Sattui Winery Barrel Tasting Party January 25, 2014

V. Sattui Winery and I go way way back to my first wine tasting days in the Napa Valley, when my underdeveloped  palate still craved White Zinfandel and Off-Dry Rieslings.  The attraction for the 1993 impoverished graduate student was the extensive deli, the sprawling picnic grounds, FREE tasting (no longer), and maybe foremost the delightful and unique sweet strawberry taste of the infamous varietal, Gamay Rouge.
In fall of 1995, my friend, who had established his membership buying 5 cases of wine and a very large bottle (a Jeraboam? A Methusaleh? A Nebuchanezzar?) for his wedding, invited me to the members only cellar to taste the good stuff.  If I liked the winery before, now I loved it, and found the need to be part of the club. Within a few months I had purchased my first case of Preston Cabernet and became a member.

Membership requirements at V.Sattui aren't too heavy.  Basically you need to buy a case a year to keep your name on file, and it is not hard for this year to lapse to 18 months or more without losing your privileges.  You can also join a wine of the month club to enjoy membership perks.  Perks?  What perks?  Well, I must admit they aren't many.  In other wine clubs, members can buy wine, even individual bottles, at a discount.  Not so at V. Sattui.  The primary perks of membership are 1) permission to taste for free a very loosely limited amount of far superior wine in the members-only cellar club and 2)  invitations to buy tickets to the over the top wine tasting events that occur throughout the year.  These parties used to be reserved for members only and their guests.  Now non-members can attend, but their tickets cost more.  Guests of members are going to pay the higher price too, and each member is limited to buying two tickets.

Anyway, on Saturday January 25, I attended with my husband and friends, Karin and Quinton Hoole, the annual Barrel Tasting Party.

Here's the low down. The party ran from 6-930 pm, pretty typical of V. Sattui parties, and cost $89 per member or $98 per non-member or guest (or members who don't realize they are members-wink to Karin).  Tonight mixed cases were offered at an additional discount and certain varietals were offered at up to 30% off by the case. 
Why is it called a barrel tasting party?  Because many of the wines offered tonight could be tasted side by side with the upcoming vintage straight out of the barrel.  I would be inclined to say that you could do this with about 25 different wines tonight, ranging from Chards to Pinot Noir to Zins to Cabs.  Should you like what you taste, you can choose to buy your favorite wine in "futures."  What this means is that you buy a case of the wine now at a discounted pre-release price and when it is bottled and released in 1-2 years, you can come and pick it up.  We have bought several wines over the years this way, usually splitting a case with friends as having 12 bottles of any one wine can be well, unnecessary.  The last case of futures we bought was in October (at the Crush Party);  a case of the super yummy Pilgrim Zinfandel out of Lodi, CA.  Usually you save about 25% per bottle off the release price, and it's just so fun to get that notice that your "baby is born!" and ready for you to take home!
One case not enough?  How about a whole barrel??  Tonight V.Sattui was giving their guests the option of buying an entire barrel of wine!  That's 25 cases my friend!  Five 2013 cabernets were for sale by the barrel tonight, and it looked like the discount was going to be close to 45%.  But alas, even at such a great deal, a barrel of cabernet was going to set you back between 7 and 11 grand. Too much for my little wallet!  I texted my Mt Veeder Cabernet junkie friend this offer and she turned me down.  The nerve of some people!

Anyone need 25 cases of Cabernet??
Food and Drink

Or should I say drink and food?  There were over 60 wines to taste at this party!  One MUST pace oneself!  Trying everything can be nothing short of disaster. I and several friends have sad stories to tell about overindulgence at a V. Sattui event.  Why did I try that Madeira three times????  Anyway, I was completely impressed by our friend and driver, Quinton, who actually tasted the wine and spat it out without swallowing it--now THAT takes willpower.  My strategy is to not taste anything out of the barrel.  I only taste the current vintages.  Craig and I will often share tastes too.
Again, tonight's offerings were primarily the side by side tastings of barreled wines and the current vintage of that wine.  The entire candlelit main cellar was lined with barrel/current vintage stations, often manned by the winemaker's themselves.  There is so much variety that it is hard to keep track of it all, so the winery provides you with a program in order to take notes.  There were three chardonnays, several pinots, merlot, syrah, at least 6 Zinfandels, and all the "big Cabs," which are so big you could eat them.
Also in the main cellar was a Tikka station featuring Chicken Tikka Kabobs, Veggie Kabobs, Creamy Cucumber Sauce, Mango Chutney and Pita Bread AND a shrimp and grits station featuring Smoked Gouda Cheesy Grits, Sautéed Spinach and Smoked Bacon.  Park benches with cozy throw pillows were set up to allow guests to rest while they grabbed a little plate of snacks while listening to the grooving tunes of the Sharp 5 Jazz Band.
In the Courtyard all the everyday favorites, Rieslings, Gamay Rouge, Napa Valley Chardonnay, Napa Valley Zinfandel and more are available to try if you haven't had your fill in the cellar.  These can be paired with the food at the Pok Pok food station, including Sweet and Sticky Vietnamese Wings and Spicy Isaan Flank Steak.
Four wines from the Sattui Family label were poured in the Vittorio Room; Red, Pinot Noir,
Sattui Family wines in the
Vittorio Room
Chardonnay and Cabernet.  My fave--the Sattui Family Red!
Still able to taste???  Well, I certainly hope so!  Waiting in the Main Tasting Room are three 2005 Cabernets;  the Preston, the Mt. Veeder and the Morisoli.  A bottle of these rare wines will run you over $95, so you actually need a ticket to try these wines, no coming back for more!  If your still hungry, you can munch on some Paella with duck and chorizo, also served in the main tasting room.
When you've had all you can take, it's time to order what ever you are buying and head back to the courtyard for coffee and biscotti while your order is being prepared for pick up in the main tasting room.

That was a lot to experience in a few short hours!  My favorite???  The Amador Ridge Zinfandel.  I must have tasted it like three times and we bought four bottles.

When is the next party??  Check out the V Sattui website to find out about future events and to learn more about the winery and becoming a member!

And now for some pictures!!

The beautifully decorated Main Cellar

I love this décor!  Simple yet elegant!

No doubt that this bunch is having fun!
Pass the Zinfandel!!

Thank you for reading this post!  Now I'm off to Mount Bachelor Resort for a few days of skiing! No snow here, so the mountains of Central Oregon beckon! 


Leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you!!

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