MY DEAR FRIEND, Alli, fell in love with Napa Valley on her first trip there in 2005. She loves it for the same reasons we all love Napa: the weather, scenery, fabulous restaurants, the quaint B&Bs. However, her iheartnapa mentality differs slightly from the rest of ours. See, hers is a little more pure…her heart is Napa.
Though she is a bestie, crazy work and crazy kids keep us from lunching (and wine-ing) as often as we would like, so [via email] she enlightened me with some wine-loving thoughts, “I love discovering new wineries that don’t have wine that is readily available for purchase where we live. Often these wineries are family owned and run, and the story of their existence is often rich with a passion and commitment to producing fine wine from vineyards that are personally and individually tended. It is easy for visitors to feel the passion that these wineries have for what they do on a daily basis, and to me that passion is contagious and keeps me coming back every year!!”
A discerning palette and appreciation for quality fed her own passion which, over the years, in turn, produced a wine collector and connoisseur. When one of her favorite wineries contacted her last winter about their national tour, she agreed to host a tasting and invite all of her non-Merlot drinking friends…it just so happens I don’t drink Merlot. Usually. “What winery?” I asked when she poured me a glass of Granache Blanc from an almost black bottle at her lake house last Spring. “VGS,” she smiled and I took a sip. Vibrant like an apple. Soft like vanilla. Love this. VGS? A family friend and Napa-frequenter told her to look for VGS on her first trip out there in 2005. She saw. She drank. She joined their club.
The wine tasting was fabulous as well as informative. Held in the Oak Room of The Dallas Athletic Club, guests visited and were offered crab, mushroom and tenderloin hors d’oeuvres. Tables were set for flights of five; Sauvignon Blanc, The Illegitimate, VGS Chardonnay, VGS Zinfandel, and VGS Cabernet Sauvignon were on the menu. The wine glasses gleamed like glass bubbles hovering just above the table and waiting to be filled less they float away. After cocktail hour, the owner of VGS, Jean-Noel Fourmeaux du Sartel, held the attendees attention not only with his well that’s just smart concepts on wine fermentation, but also with the coupling of irreverent, tongue-in-cheek quotes and the charm of his heavy French accent. After acting as an official wine taster for the French government, JNFdS (how’d you like that monogram) arrived in Napa in 1980 to see what all the fuss was about. “Looks good. We stay,” was his message back home, and soon after VGS Chateau Potelle was born. What’s with the name? The Chateau Potelle is his generations-old family home in France. VGS? Well…he was asked once about his method of rating wine. His response, “Its either Very Good Shit, or bad shit.” His wine is VGS.
Creating wine with style and character, but void of pretention is Jean-Noel’s goal at VGS.Upon his arrival in Napa, he noted California cuisine was on the cusp of a renaissance and knew his ideas about winemaking would partner well with the less is more philosophy. He is a man with a quick laugh and joy-du-vivre, and has an obvious passion for wine. “Don’t wait for a special occasion to drink good wine. The fact that you woke up today is a special occasion,” he told us.
My favorite wine of the evening was, get ready, the Riviera Rose…(gasp.) When Matthew, the right hand of Jean-Noel, offered me some of the pinky-bronze liquid, I quickly covered my glass and shook my head. His eyes crinkled at the corners as he read my mind, “Our Rose is not sweet.” I don’t know all the rules for tasting wine: the slurp, the sniff, the legs. Surely he would know I was posing if I lifted my glass and pretended to study the color and then motion for a spittoon after a flavorful gargle. Instead, I took a sip and listened while Matthew explained that though the grapes are grown in Sonoma County, the wine itself emulates the premiere rose of the South of France. The concept of a sweet vinegary white zyn left my mind the moment I tasted it. It was light, aromatic and refreshing with a pepper and rose finish. I laughed when he told me to close my eyes and listen for the waves of the Mediterranean, but to be honest, the flavor truly evoked a spirit of holiday lux: palm trees, a Sophie Digard scarf used as a swim suit cover up, clean line pools with quatrefoil accents. That pinky-bronze color mimics the shade of a sun-kissed shoulder missed by Coola, and I could definitely enjoy a glass while sitting poolside, even if that pool is in McKinney, not Monte Carlo.
So, what does a girl do at a wine tasting when she is all dressed up and her husband is out of town? I came, I tasted, I bought two cases.
Ciao for now-Lauren