The first stop of the day isn’t always the best, but at Rocca Family Vineyards it proved to be. Though we (traveling with pal Claudia Sheridan) thought we may have taken a wrong turn as the quaint home didn’t have a tasting room sign, it was the right address and once through the front doors and settled in for a tasting, we felt right at home.
Rocca Family Vineyards
Winemaker Paul Colantuoni is a fan of old world Rhônes, especially Syrah. He had a full ride scholarship at Princeton for chemical engineering, then toured the wine regions in Italy and Spain. He started with Tim Mondavi, was further degreed, and then he came in and took over winemaking at Rocca when Celia Welch left in 2008.
The tasting room is currently by appointment only but should be open by 2015 to the general public – with signage! It’s a lovely old home with high ceilings – they actually brought them down some – and plenty of tasting options in the front porch, back patio or via indoor sitting room.
Sales Director John Taylor was happy to take care of us first thing in the morning and regaled us in stories about getting the winery open, and his love of Colantuoni’s winemaking skills.
Tasting Rocca (Aroma and flavor separated by 😉
2009 Rocca Syrah, Grigsby Vineyard, Yountville, Napa Valley
Plummy, figs, blackberry jam, earthy; jammy with great spice notes and tannin. Excellent 100% Syrah. I was smitten from the first taste.
2010 Merlot, Grigsby Vineyard, Yountville, Napa Valley
Blueberry, ripe strawberry, smoke, lightly toasted oak barrels maybe; smoke again, darker fruit, spice is nicely balanced, palate drying finish. Tasted older than a 2010, good terroir structure and strength, ready to drink now. Well done.
2010 Vespera red blend (Paul started this blend in 2008. This is Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah) Coombsville and Yountville.
Very jammy, stewing meats, black licorice; dry and dark, espresso bean, rich plums. Want pasta with this one. Taylor called it their “gateway” wine with a lower price-point.
2010 Collinetta Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsvile Napa Valley
“Stressed volcanic grapes”
Cracked black pepper, plums, mushroom; dried fruits, pepper and spice holding in through the end, great tannins. Excellent.
2010 Grigsby Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville
“Happy Yountville grapes”
Awesome bowl of red to blue fruits, dried plums, freshness quality; more fruit than tannins, more balance. (We tried the Collinetta and Grigsby at the same time. I favored the Grigsby over the Collinetta, which was Claudia’s choice.)
2010 Tesorina Napa Valley Red Wine – Barrel Select 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (not a single vineyard designate) Winemaker wanted this wine to have the most balance, with age-ability.
Juicy biting dark fruit, oak, milk chocolate, mushrooms; peppery, mid palate dryness but overall dark juicy with good tannins.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com