Friday, January 27, 2017

A Day at Reynolds Family Winery

Mustard is beginning to raise its golden face toward the sun here in Napa, it’s the first harbinger of spring to come, and it means that it’s time for the Bounty Hunter to take the Wine Scouts up the Silverado Trail to Reynolds Family Winery.  Steve Reynolds is like your favorite mad scientist uncle, who plies devotees with a shot of tequila before wine dinners then turns around and explains that, “texture is the wild west of wine making,” and color molecules are the key.  He leaves you feeling like you should be out there x-raying your grapes in the vineyard you don’t own yet. Tasting with him is like being invited to the private winemakers club.

Steve’s first vintage was a study in persistence.  In 1995, while still working as a dentist, he and his wife Suzie bought an old chicken ranch just below Stags Leap.  They cleared the land, planted vines, and in 1999 were ready to harvest their first grapes.  Steve rented a neighbor’s barn and started crushing.  A dentist by day, winemaker by night sounds like our version of a comic book Super Hero.  Then, as often happens, life rushed in. The helpful neighbor let him know that his barn actually wasn’t zoned for winemaking, and he’d have to move the whole production line.  Wine making in the best conditions is a full-time endeavor.  Steve quit the dental practice and we’re glad he hasn’t looked back.  His wine, Persistence, is the legacy of his beginnings in the Napa Valley.

When you start chatting with Steve, his passion for the science of wine making is immediately apparent.  He has pioneered a process where he uses ozone gas to create a wine with no added sulfites and more antioxidants.  We can’t make any health claims about it, but the wine is called The Quote.  Ask for it if you find yourself in the Reynolds Family tasting room and need a boost. He also uses a process called “wine x-ray” to check his phenolic concentrations.  Which is a geeky way to say that he has more control over the mouth-feel of his wines.  He loves to create bottles with upfront fruit and beautiful tannic balance that are going to be both delicious on their own and make food taste spectacular.

Reynolds Family Winery is only open by appointment but they are always delighted when customers come to them from the Bounty Hunter.  We had the RFW Tour and Chef’s Pairings, which includes a walk through their vineyards, a tour of the barrel room, and a sit down tasting with wine and cheese.  If you are in town in the summer, watching river otters in the pond off their patio with some of their Sauvignon Blanc is an excellent way to spend an afternoon.

Here’s a rundown of some of our tasting, all of these are available by clicking on the wine names below.

A classic, textbook Merlot from the Annapurna vineyard in Stags Leap District, this wine has all the earthy elegance of that appellation combined with plush, low-acid black fruit and baking spices. The rock facade of the palisades reflects the heat of the sun onto this vineyard, causing temperatures to rise more quickly than in neighboring vineyards; this gives the wine considerable power for a Merlot - 10% Cabernet blended in helps too!

Never has a name so aptly described a wine, as this big and bold red blend is bursting at the seams with intensity. Inky purple in color, aromas of crème de cassis, cherries, black pepper and herbs lead into a mouthful of jammy blue and black fruits and chewy tannins that grab a hold of your senses and don't let go. If you're looking for unadulterated Napa decadence in a glass, you've come to the right place. 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 8% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot.

From the family holdings just south of Stags Leap District, this is a gorgeous 2014, loaded with aromas of cassis syrup, mocha, marzipan, and black cherry jam. It is ripe and forceful on the palate, just a perfect foil for something like a prime rib sandwich with sundried tomato aioli. 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Merlot, raised in only 20% new oak!