As a tenured wine journalist I’ve had to force myself to seek out new experiences for readers – even at times where I just want to visit my favorites again. So in my latest – and quickest – trip to the Napa Valley I visited the best of both worlds: a winery I loved when I had tasted through their wines with the owner but never visited, and another winery that offered a unique potato chip wine pairing.
Silver Trident Winery
We visited the Silver Trident Winery, forever to be known as the potato chip winery in my head, and their “Tasting Home” collaboration with Ralph Lauren right on the main drag (Washington St.) in Yountville. There were several classy living spaces to taste wine in: living room, dining room and library. And we decided to try the one and only POTATO CHIP EXTRAVAGANZA that Eater San Francisco named as one of the “22 Premier Wineries with Excellent Food” experiences in Napa.
In front of us on a round table was a large placemat divided into five sections that listed the wines, the potato chips to pair with each, and the round circle for where the glasses would be placed. I had seen it all before – but definitely sans chips! So I did my thing: when the wines were served I evaluated the aromas and flavors I found in each, and then went back to try them with the chips. Come to find that the owner had been given a bag of potato chips with a mini bottle of screw-capped wine on an airplane during the pandemic, and had the epiphany to create the pairing.
The chip pairings for our party were as follows: Symphony No. 9 2021 Sauvignon Blanc with Route 11 Sour Cream and Chives, Benevolent Dictator 2021 Pinot Noir with Zapp’s Cajun Dill, Playing with Fire 2019 Red Blend with Zapp’s Voodoo, Twenty Seven Fathoms 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon with Zapp’s Sea Salt and Twenty Seven Fathoms 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon with Kollar Chocolates Bittersweet Chocolate Chip with salt added.
My takeaways on the pairings were that while all of the chips were fun, my favorites were the plain salted chip and the chocolate covered potato chip with the extra salt brushed off. One of the people in my party liked the chocolate chip with the Sauvignon Blanc, and I have to admit that was different. General manager Shane Soldinger commented that the potato chip pairing “showcases approachability of the wine’s fruit and ripeness.”
As for the wines, I enjoyed them all for their perfumy aromas and good fruit. My favorites included the 2021 Sauvignon Blanc, 2019 Playing with Fire blend of Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, and both the 2018 and 2019 Twenty Seven Fathoms Cabernet Sauvignon.
The tasting room also offered non-wine items for purchase – every Yountville store front has to offer 25% of their space for retail – and at Silver Trident they had their own olive oil, coffee and candles among the Ralph Lauren furniture and accessories. You could easily make a day of it just visiting other Yountville wine tasting rooms, art galleries, the Kollar chocolatier and, if you want to go classic get a reservation at the French Laundry for dinner.
Next up I chose a winery I had never visited but I had the pleasure to taste through their wines with one of the owners, Eric Titus, in 2019: second-generation family-owned Titus Vineyards. The grounds were beautiful, as were the tasting areas both inside and out, the wines were buy-worthy, winemaker Stephen Cruzan even made time for us, and the welcoming tasting room hosts – thank you Drew – told us we would be “treated like family” when we returned!
Before moving onto the wine tasting we learned a couple of things from listening to and observing Drew that Napa wine lovers should know: There will be little to nothing offered from the big fire year, 2020, so stock up on what you need now. And if you are going to need to open a newly released Napa red do what is done in the tasting rooms, you can serve a wine that may have been opened 24 to 48 hours earlier and just re-corked. Like a great spaghetti sauce that only gets better the second day. Now to the wines, we tasted quite a few so I will share my favorites here:
2021 Sauvignon Blanc with 4% Viognier had beautiful honey, peach, cantaloupe and a nice minerality; their new 2021 Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir with bold red to dark fruit, green peppercorn and balance, an easy sipper; 2018 Cabernet Franc with notes of dark fruit, dark chocolate, leather and gripping tannins; 2019 Family Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with dark, dusty and lingering spice notes; 2018 Lot 1 Napa Valley red blend with aromas and flavors that reminded me of pipe tobacco, bark and blackberry; and finally, their new 2019 Imperatus Cabernet Sauvignon for its huge nose, and a perfect balance of fruit and spice on the mouth.
The winery is located almost at the corner of Silverado Trail and Deerpark Road, on the northern edge of St. Helena: 2971 Silverado Trail.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in the first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Proof Awards, LA Wine Competition, Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.