Arriving at the gate, and driving down the long, beautiful grounds (including a lake) was in itself a pleasure. Upon arriving, we were greeted by the friendly Tamamo, who brought us into the tasting lounge and p0ured some of their Sauvingon Blanc "asatsuyu" ($80 750ml, $40 375ml) while telling of the history of the winery and Kenzo in enjoyable detail. Originally from Japan, but living in San Francisco for 10 years (including work as a concierge), Tamamo made a lovely and gracious host to Lynn and myself. After an informative tour through the grounds and the cave, we were seated in a shaded patio seating outside, where 4 wines awaited us, all Bordeaux blends. The Rindo ($100)is a lush, appraochable blend showcasing red and dark fruits, dark earth, razzleberry, graphite and a hint of smoke that ,with it's mild tannins and acid, can be approached as a drinking wine or as a pairing with a good hearty tomato dish, pesto with marinated tofu, or even an artisan pizza.
Next up was the Murasaki ($250), a huge mouthfeel of violets, raspberry, dark cherry, blackberry, graphite, scorched earth, good tannic-acidic structure. Pair this with a hearty dish. I would opt at home for a lightly smoked eggplant and porcini mushroom with garlic, and maybe some tomatoes and smoked tempeh.
Next was the Ai ($250). Velvety, plush, and loaded with opulant cherry, sweet spices and great structure that a fabulous winemaker like Heidi Barrett brings out of a great piece of land managed by a viticulture legend such as David Abreu.
Finally, we were treated to Asuka, a wine of 97% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvingon, 1% of structure inducing Petit Verdot. Retaining that wonderful vegetal character of a Cab Franc, but with the lush and powerful hillside Napa fruit character, this would be wonderful with Spanish rice, with spice rubbed or bbq tempeh strips and a tomato broth, topped with sweet peppers, onions and lemon.
My hats off to another impressive series of wines from Napa stars, a stunning estate, great hospitality staff and a genius proprietor who has orchestrated a dream site for making wine and hosting. Remember, it is by appointment only, and everyone must be over 21 to visit. The three options are-$40 for a wonderful sit-down tasting; $60 for a tour and tasting; $80 for a tour, tasting and food pairing that included bites from Thomas Keller's Bouchon. Buy 6 or more bottles and the fees and shipping costs are waived!