There is an alternative for wine tasters that are ready to explore more after Napa winery tasting rooms shut down at night: get thee to the Pure Cru wine bar and tasting room in downtown Napa to taste winemaker Mitch Cosentino’s latest vintages. (And if that’s not enough of an inducement, the downtown Napa area also boasts dozens of restaurants, hotels, a meandering river walk…and a some other tasting rooms I’ll cover in this article. Story in photos here.)
We were visiting during this recent harvest season, so we met up with Mitch at the end of his day, 7pm, for a chat and a tasting. I was asking which of the other Long Beach Grand Cru judges we needed to kill off for me to get a permanent spot and Mitch, bless his hard-working heart, indulged my fantasy while leading us through a stellar tasting. We ended up ordering a mixed case.
Tasting – aromas and flavors separated by ;
2013 Chardonnay: Asian pear, unsalted creamy butter, crème fraise, and a pale hint of rosemary; pear, apple and, see if you can find-it-cranberry delivered a perfect balance. 91 Eve pts.
2011 Sangio Vetta: Very smooth, with nuances of cherry and bark; a very easy drinker with that same cherry on the palate but this time it was crushed onto toast. 90 Eve pts.
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon: Plum, tri-color peppercorns, milk chocolate; beautiful balance of fruit, spice and chocolate. 94 Eve pts.
2011 CFM (Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend): Spiced plum, mint, pepper, creamy with some pleasing vegetation; there was that chocolate-covered-cherry again, nice and chewy, great balance, 94 Eve pts.
2011 The Don: (25% of the sales of this wine go to Make-A-Wish foundation and is named after a former partner in the winery that has since passed away.) 100% Cabernet from “two of the rarest clones” that shall not be named…I got aromas of dust, what Mitch referred to as “lead pencil”, blackberry and hard candy; very rich dark fruit, velvety, intense black cherry that would be hard for any taster to miss, doesn’t need food or aging. 96 Eve pts.
2011 Reserve Cab Franc: With only 44 cases made your best bet is to get to the tasting bar and ask if there is any left. Dark berry, cigar, eucalyptus, resonating with melted chocolate; loved the balance of dark fruit, spice and tannin. Great melding of flavors. 95 Eve pts.
Of this last wine, the Reserve Cab Franc, Mitch commented, “The worst this wine will taste over the next 10 to 15 years is today.” Well done.
We were headed over to dinner at the Bounty Hunter Wine Bar and Smokin’ BBQ (great $10 sampler for their Happy Hour, skip the house wines but definitely go for the wine flights and spirits.) and lo and behold I saw someone I knew: Ben Mason, formerly of the Hipster Enology wine blog that I had met at Rhone Rangers LA about five years ago!
Ben is now living the dream: living and working in wine country doing Sales and Hospitality for the Vintner’s Collective Napa Valley. Their collective tasting room is right in downtown Napa and we etched out another hour of our wine tasting day to visit him, coincidentally when he was doing a nice tasting event.
The tasting room had been damaged in the recent Napa earthquake, and while under construction is open for business. They represent over a dozen wineries. We tasted from four during our visit and bought a mixed half case. Of these wineries, all new to us, we purchased a Napa Zinfandel from D Cubed and a red Bordeaux blend from Buoncristiani. Both were very reasonably priced for Napa standards.
Besides seeing Ben there we thoroughly enjoyed meeting other people on the comfy seating on their huge second story porch. Definitely a place to revisit!
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 judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. 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