Because I live only about an hour from the Napa Valley (and about 1-3/4 hours from Sonoma), I get asked for winery recommendations frequently. I am sometimes at a loss, because as someone who travels in the wine trade circles, I am not looking for the best tours, prettiest place for a picnic, etc. I'm usually on the hunt for the best juice and usually end up in the cold cellars tasting, not on a porch overlooking the valley sipping Cab.
But I occasionally get guests that have never really had the Wine Country experience before, and are interested in the sights and tours of sumptuous properties as well as tasting the wine. I had just these kind of guests a couple of weeks ago and it occurred to me that Far Niente just might be the perfect spot to begin a trip to Napa Valley. It has it all.
So I called in a favor to my friend that runs the hospitality program, and booked an awesome morning tour and tasting which is a great value at $65.00 per person. Believe me, it's well worth the money. There is quite a bit of walking up and down stairs usually, so if you have any mobility issues, best call ahead.
Driving in, you can't help but be blown away by the property. It's a stunning late 19th century building, beautifully restored. We arrived VIP style, with our names on the welcome board - a nice touch. We were then introduced to our very well trained host and tour guide who proceeded to give us a grand tour, answered every question my guests and I peppered her with.
The tour also includes a visit to their stunning car collection, another treat for anyone interested in cars. I have been drinking their wine and the wine from their sister ventures for decades, and I had no idea they had a car collection! You can check out their website on the collection, but you are guaranteed to get some surprises. No spoilers from me. I was shocked by how much our host new about cars too. Again, extremely professionally trained.
The wines of Far Niente are classic big Napa style and always meticulously crafted. I can't think of a better place to show new visitors to Napa what all the fuss is about. The sit down tasting usually comprises 5 wines, both new releases and at least one Library wine along with some perfect cheese pairings. I loved the 2013 Estate Chardonnay with its racy acidity and tight lemon, lychee, and tropical notes. I couldn't resist bringing home a magnum of it.
The 2012 Far Niente Estate Chardonnay is much rounder, has a more pronounced Oak toast, lime peel and butter style.
The 2012 Far Niente Estate Oakville Cabernet has bright acids and lovely blueberry scents.
The 2005 Far Niente Estate Oakville Cabernet still has a good stripe of acidity, but now is showing beautifully with mushroom/forest floor scents. Lots of vanilla on this as well.
A special treat for all, is the Dolce. They are pouring the 2008 right now (a cold wet year) and is a lovely thing. Grapefruit peel and stone fruits pop out. This has a good dose of Sauvignon Blanc to help bolster the acidity and help balance the sweetness. Highly recommended.