Can you believe that it’s almost October? After six months of quarantine, the Bay Area is slowly moving towards the outdoor dining reopening phase. Napa County was one of the first counties to reopen for outdoor dining and is now moving into Phase-2 which includes dine-in restaurants, retail stores, and shopping malls.
On top of the lockdown, Californians are going through the worst fire season on record, causing destruction, blackouts, and evacuations for many. After several days of orange skies and heavy smoke, the smoke has finally cleared bringing back blue skies and sunshine. With the weather being in the high 70’s, I figured it was the perfect time for me to head to Napa to do a little wine tasting.
About Clos Du Val
I discovered Clos Du Val after searching for the Napa geotag and hashtags on Instagram which lead me to this luxurious property. Clos Du Val pronounced, [Cloh- Do-Vahl] means small estate of a small valley. It is located in the Stags Leap District in Napa Valley and was founded in 1972 by John Goelet, a descendant of a Bordeaux wine merchant.
Bordeaux is a city in France known for its world-famous wines and history that dates back to the eleventh century. In the Bordeaux region of France, red wines are blended from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot grapes.
Clos Du Val specializes in all wines but is known for its red wine selection. The 1972 Clos Du Vals Cabernet Sauvignon, was apart of the group that topped French wines in the legendary 1976 Judgment of Paris blind tasting. Ten years later, their Cabernet Sauvignon took first place in the Judgment of Paris rematch.
The Tasting Experience
Due to COVID-19 Clos Du Val has made a few safety protocols, including restricting the number of parties allowed to taste on the outdoor patio making the Hirondelle House Experience more intimate.
The Hirondelle House experience (meaning swallow in French) allows you to sit back and relax as your host takes you on a journey to explore a selection of wines paired with seasonal, artisanal bites.
This private seated tasting and tour will have you feeling as if you have the place completely to yourself. Please do yourself a favor and request Serf (Yes, like surf) as your host. He had us laughing and is very knowledgeable about all of the wines and what they pair best with.
Currently, The Hirondelle House tasting costs $75 per person and is limited to 6 guests. Reservations are required and you should allow at least 60 minutes for the tasting, not including the tour. The Library tasting option is available upon reservation. Clos Du Val does require you to sign a Liability Waiver before arrival.
Since it’s not possible for everyone to visit Clos Du Val, they now offer virtual tasting packages, where you’ll receive an invite to a live, one-on-one, virtual tasting tailored around your choice.
Prior to your arrival, Clos Du Val will send you a digital brochure and tasting menu tailored to your upcoming experience. Here’s a quick graphic explaining the difference between Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and merlot.
The Tasting Menu
This tasting flight menu for the month of September 2020 is as followed:
2018 Trial Series Chardonnay, Carneros – This 100% Chardonnay opens with bright aromas of candied green apple, lemon, and tropical fruit. Flavors of fresh citrus and orange marmalade are tied together with a creamy texture and nice round mouthfeel.
2017 SVS Merlot, Napa Valley– Opening with rich aromas of mocha and gingerbread spice, this 100% Merlot displays a silky, smooth mouthfeel. Abundant flavors of blueberry, raspberry, and candied plum are followed by a long, chalky finish.
2017 Estate Cabernet Franc, Hirondelle Vineyard, Stags Leap District– Grown in our prized Hirondelle Vineyard, this classic Cabernet Franc opens with aromas of wet stone, menthol, and graphite. Rich flavors of black cherry and cinnamon lead to plush tannins and a long, smooth finish.
2017 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Hirondelle Vineyard, Stags Leap District- This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was grown from four of our best blocks of the Hirondelle Estate Vineyard. The wine has deep blackcurrant aromas with a hint of clove. Displaying flavors of blueberry, toast, espresso and fresh cream, there is a long, velvety finish.
Shop this look
The tasting areas at Clos Du Val have several little nooks to taste in, but the focal point on the inside is the communal tasting table in the center of the room.
The table provides plenty of space to entertain large parties or smaller groups. Above the communal table is a large modern light fixture that really adds to the room. Behind the center of the room is an arched hallway that leads to the production room.
As you tour the property you’ll notice the three naked ladies on Clos Du Vals wine bottles. If you look closely at the wine list that they give you during your tasting you’ll see the term “Three Graces”. The Three Graces refers to a painting that depicts three goddesses from ancient Greek mythology called “The Graces”, known in Greek as the Charites.
Originally, goddesses of nature, they came to be generally considered as companions of Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of Love and Beauty. Eternally young and lovely, they represented charm, beauty, and human creativity, and were depicted naked, originally holding attributes such as apples, roses, and sprigs of myrtle.
Clos Du Val is such an elegant winery and provides the perfect atmosphere to relax and unwind. I can’t wait to go back to Napa to visit the winery again. On Monday Governor Gavin Newsom issued a state of emergency proclamation for two wildfires burning in Northern California, including the Glass fire in Sonoma and Napa counties.
The Glass fire has destroyed 113 buildings and damaged two others forcing residents of Calistoga and other local towns in Napa Valley to evacuate.
Nearly 1,500 personnel were on the ground battling the blaze, which has tripled in size consuming over 11,000 acres. California is fighting wildfires at a historic level this season, so if you’re interested in ways that you can help head over to California Wildfire Relief to donate.
What is your favorite winery to visit while in Napa? Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to reading your additional thoughts and experiences, as well as answering any questions you may have!
Until next time,