Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Premiere Napa Valley 2012

Updated 2/19/13:
The Premiere Napa Valley Auction is the toughest ticket of the year. You can’t buy your way in… it’s industry only. The wineries are there to shine with their best wares, and the folks with paddles in their hands don’t like to go home empty-handed. It makes for some spirited bidding and a roomful of very serious wines.
We are excited to see what our ticket in gets us this year. Stay tuned to find out what lots we win! But in the meantime, here are a few gems for PNV 2012:
2010 Martin Est. 'Puerta Dorada' Cab Premiere Napa Valley
2009 Terlato Tete de Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley PNV
2010 Far Niente 'Martin Stelling' Cabernet Sauvignon Premiere Napa Valley
“Paddle Number One”. It has a nice ring to it. We knocked off a few longtime rival bidders and took home the honor as this year’s champion at the Napa Vintner’s annual Premiere Napa Valley “bake sale.” Our one-of-a-kind scores include an amazing blend from Silver Oak, a single-vineyard bottling from Far Niente and a To Kalon release from PlumpJack among a lineup of a dozen All-Stars. We were pretty pleased with how it all worked out.

Premiere Napa Valley used to be a one-day affair with the barrel tasting and live auction essentially defining the event.

Now in its 16th iteration, Premiere has morphed into nearly a full week of lunches, parties, tastings and general celebrations. A few of our favorite highlights:

Ray Signorello Jr. set the tone for a lunch last week by greeting his guests with a flute of ’90 Cristal. His über-talented winery chef then proceeded to nail four courses in pairing both Signorello wines and a few select cellar gems (seared duck breast and ’90 Leroy Vosne-Romanée “Les Beaux Monts,” anyone?). Perhaps most impressive was how the Signorello “Hope’s Cuvée” Chardonnay fared. The 1998 was the room’s favorite and three vintages in total topped a ’99 Boillot Montrachet that had been slipped in as a ringer.

Cliff Lede’s “Open That Bottle Night” remains an annual favorite. When a gathering of a couple hundred wine pros tries to outdo one another with bottles from their own stashes, things get serious. Cliff himself showed the room how it’s done with a 5L of 1990 Château d’Yquem. There were simply too many amazing wines to list.
The team at the stunning O’Shaughnessy estate up on Howell Mountain hired a paella expert and raided their personal cellar for dozens of older Spanish wines from the Ribera, Priorat, Rioja and Jerez. Everything from obscure white blends to Unico with a little age on it. No wonder we were so excited about the invitation.

Vintner and bon vivant Jean-Charles Boisset raised the bar for how an auction after-party should be done. In transforming his newly-acquired Raymond Vineyards into equal parts Parisian nightclub, red-velvet bordello and a rave with a Mardi Gras theme, no one left that soirée with anything other than smiles and hazy memories. It was the perfect wrap-up to a long week of flesh pressing… as it were.

Another year of Premiere is in the books and we have the battle scars to prove it. Kudos to the Napa Vintners – and really the whole Valley – for once again bringing their A-game to the week. It has truly become a world-class party.

--Rhett Gadke
Wine Director