Monday, February 05, 2007

Trade-Only Tasting in the Cave of Frazier Winery

On Wednesday, January 21, 2007, Frazier Winery (<- Click here for web site) held a tasting event for “Trade-Only” in their gorgeous caves located on the dead-end part of Second Avenue, accessible via First Avenue by taking North Avenue to reach Second. Don’t try to do it via Hagen as Second doesn’t go through to connect there. By the way, tasting can only be made by appointment. Drop-ins are not allowed by their County operating .permit.

I’ve known Bill Frazier, owner, for about 15 years having first meet him in the social environment of Napa businesses. I’ve followed the development of his winegrowing venture over the years, so I was very pleased to be invited to this tasting event. Bill started the whole wine thing back in 1990 when he made his first land purchase specific to winegrowing in the eastern foothills of Napa Town. He picked-up 21 plus acres located between Hagen Road and Coombsville; An area now under consideration for American Viticultural Appellation approval as the “Tulocay “ District. He planted 9 plus acres in Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

His original plan was to sell his grapes to others, but in 1995 he changed his mind and started production using custom crush houses. In 1998 he purchased another 46 acres and planted 11 plus to grapes and then in 2001 he converted an old hay barn on the property into his winery operation. His permit allows him to produce up to 50,000 gallons of wine. His production is currently hovering around 5,000 cases per year.

The most magnificent addition to his winegrowing facilities is the caves he started in 2002 and completed in 2003. In 2006 bottling facilities were the final addition. WOW!! Spectacular and many other descriptors are needed in attempt to verbalize how neat it is “In the Caves!” While digging the caves, the contractor ran into a solid rock wall extending for quite some distance. The rock wall was not covered over as is the usual process because of the beautiful mineral colors weaving in flowing patterns throughout the exposed rock. The contractor wisely shaped the wall such that at about 12 feet from it, smack dab in the center of the cave, is that perfect parabolic sound point where as you speak, you are instantaneously treated to “surround sound” like you’ve never heard before. Bill’s daughter , Kim, informed me that they have had opera singers and jazz groups play at this exact point and on a clear day even those playing golf on the 12th hole of the adjacent Napa Valley Country Club were experiencing the beautiful sounds.

But enough of the physical plant description -- although I do believe that wine tasting is an experience that involves the surroundings and how they influence our wine tasting interpretations. I started with the Lupine Hill (name of the area on which Bill built his home) 2003 Merlot and then the Lupine Hill 2003 Cab. Sauv. These were very good wines. They were followed by the 2003 Family Estate Merlot and Cab. Sauv. The Family Estate Merlot tannin was a little high for my tastes so I would need to lay it away for a period of time in hopes to reduce its influence. The Family Estate Cab was simply marvelous, well rounded and easy to drink with balance between tannin, oak and plenty of fruit, and finishing with caramel and chocolate hints. My final wine was the Frazier Family 2003 Memento Cab. Sauv. This latter wine - only about 200 cases produced - was created in memory of Bill’s oldest son who he lost in 2002. The 2003 Memento with its long, long finish, grabbed my palate and tingled it from the first contact. The tannic acids in the Memento did not dominate nor did the oak; a well structured wine. I wanted to drink more of this wine.

Throughout the tasting I kept noticing how many guests were drinking the wine. and devouring the well laid out cheeses, crackers and other trappings of an open house social. Only a few us were truly tasting and spitting. I think I was the only one taking pictures and writing notes on my wine tasting experience.

Bill, his daughter Kim, son Kevin, and Adam were gracious hosts. I did not get a chance to meet winemaker John Gibson but hopefully I will the next time I go back. Besides visiting the winery, here are a few spots that Frazier Winery will be visiting during the next couple months and you can possibly get a tast of these fine wines.

Feb. 11, , 2-5pm, Loyola Marymount Wine Classic, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA
Feb. 16, 5-7pm, JV Wine & Spirits Tasting, Napa, CA. Come to taste our current vintages and a preview of our 2004 vintage!
Feb. 24, NVV Premier Napa Valley (Trade Only Event)at CIA, St. Helena, CA
Mar. 10, 5-8pm, Wheelchair Foundation Charity Event, "Mobility for Latin America" in Blackhawk, CA
Mar 20, Family Winemaker's Tasting (Trade Only Event) Pasadena, CA
May 19, 1-4:30 pm, 24th Annual Tiburon Wine Festival, Tiburon, CA


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