There are literally hundreds of ways to taste wine in Napa Valley. The classic tried and true way is to bump up to the bar and enjoy a range of current offerings. Napa started doing that way back when and allowed Vintners to showcase their wares. The idea was and still is that if you liked one or more of their wines you’d take some home to enjoy later. At most wineries you can still do this. Many tasting rooms, all over now, also offer additional ways to enjoy wine. This can be as simple as a wine and cheese pairing or as involved as a helicopter flight to a mountain top tasting.
Round Pond Estate has chosen to allow guests to enjoy the bounty of their property and all that encompasses in a number of ways. Depending on how much time you want to commit and what parts of Round Pond you’d like to see you can spend as little as half an hour there, or as much as a day. For my recent visit I cut it right down the middle and spent more than 2 hours there. My guest and I took part in Round Pond’s Il Pranzo Lunch ($120).
Upon arrival we were greeted at the bar with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc which we enjoyed while the whole party assembled. Once everyone had arrived we made our way outside and toured the garden. Round Pond has a diverse garden which they use for the food they serve as well as many of the items they sell. In addition to the vines and the vegetable garden the Estate includes 12 acres of olives. Round Pond is a gorgeous property and it has a very cohesive feel, everything feels connected and the longer I spent there the more that feeling came through. After the garden, we walked through the winery itself where we were greeted by winemaker Muiris Griffin and Ryan MacDonnell, one of the owners. While in the cellar we tasted unfinished wines from both tank and barrel.
Eventually we made our way to the terrace just outside the tasting room. We sat at a long table and went through both an Estate olive oil and an Estate vinegar tasting. Both were fascinating particularly for those who hadn’t t participated in those sorts of tastings before. We had some bread to munch on with the olive oil, but after that the feast really got under way. The parade of food began with a salad and continued with a charcuterie plate, fresh veggies, grilled meats, a cheese course, fruits and finally dessert. Most of what we consumed was from the Round Pond Estate. Meats and cheeses were an exception to that. Along with all of the foods we continued to enjoy the olive oils and vinegars as well as citrus based syrups. These will work great in cocktails, but there were also terrific with the grilled meats as well as for dressing the salad.
Of course through it all we tasted Round Pond wines. And while we talked about the wines, it really was about the synergy of wine and food coming together. Here are some thoughts on a few of my favorite wines from the afternoon.
Round Pond 2013 Rutherford Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($24)
Tons of citrus and hints of grass fill the nose of this Sauvignon Blanc. This offering sees now oak. They also offer a Sauvignon Blanc that does see some oak treatment. Hints of tropical fruit and continued citrus elements play put on the palate. White pepper and Meyer lemon emerges on the crisp, clean and mouth watering finish. This wine is tasty on its own and also works well with lighter foods.
Red berry fruit aromas and wisps of savory herbs emerge from the nose. The palate is full bodied, proportionate and remarkably smooth. Loads of red berry fruit comes through along with interspersed bits of darker fruit. Earth, dusty dark chocolate and espresso all appear on the long finish. This wine paired really nicely with beef. It’s a very approachable Cabernet right now, particularly for a 2012.
Round Pond Estate 2012 Proprietary Red Wine ($80)
Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Petite Sirah join Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend. Violet, blueberry and vanilla bean aromas light up the nose here. Blackberry, plum and continued blueberry flavors dominate the palate. All of those characteristics as well as cherry and earth are present on the long, somewhat lusty finish. This was a crazy good match for Humboldt Fog.
Round Pond Estate 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($110)
Black raspberry aromas lead the big, somewhat booming nose of this Reserve Cab. Black cherry and continued raspberry appear on the deep and full flavored palate. Minerals, chocolate covered cherries, and earth are party of the persistent finish. This is a really nice Cabernet with good structure. While it’s delicious now it’ll be even tastier in 4 or 5 years, so lay it down if you have the patience.
Round Pond Estate is growing some delicious wines as well as a wide array of interesting and thoughtful artisan food products. Going there to taste them is highly recommended. If you can though, I strongly encourage you to make an appointment for one of their longer and more involved tastings. There is a lot going on at Round Pond and the best way to understand what they’re all about is to spend a few hours, or more, soaking it all in. There are a lot of places in Napa Valley you can spend your money; Round Pond is both unique and among the best.