Friday, July 9, 2010

Del Dotto Estate Winery and Caves, St. Helena, CA - red wine tasting

Del Dotto was recommended to me by EE, who just visited Napa a couple of weeks ago. She did a barrel tasting in the caves - lucky girl! This was our fourth tasting of the day, so we decided to take it easy and do a regular tasting, which was $30 for five wines.

The entry to the winery was beautiful, with a really gorgeous fountain in front of the doors. The main tasting room is ornately decorated, and when we entered the atmosphere was reminiscent of The Sopranos (with the Italian music and all). I mentioned this to Tim, our host, and he said he like to think of it as "angels singing."

The first wine we tasted was the Del Dotto Caves Merlot 2005, which is 100% Napa Valley Merlot and retails for $39/bottle at the winery. I tasted red fruit, spice, and soft to moderate tannins. I liked this wine.

The next wine we tasted was the Del Dotto Cinghiale Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006, which is 100% Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, which retails for $75/bottle at the winery. Robert Parker rated it at 92 points. I tasted dried fruit and spice, as well as some earthiness. I liked this wine - it was very interesting, and a departure from the one-note cherry bomb Pinots, which can be refreshing in their own way.

The third wine we tasted was the Del Dotto Caves Cave Blend 2006, which is a blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, CA. It retails for $49 at the winery. Tim our pourer, called it their "hot tub wine" and I can see why. It's very fruit forward with moderate tannins. I think it would be fairly easy drinking for most. It is an okay wine.

The fourth wine was the Del Dotto Caves Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, which retails for $65/bottle at the winery and is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. I tasted dark fruit, licorice, strong tannins, and black tea. I really liked this wine a lot. We also had some bites of Parmesan Reggiano cheese with it, which really brought out the nuttiness of the cheese and the complexity of the wine.

The next wine we tasted was the Del Dotto Vineyard 887 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and retails for $85/bottle at the winery. It tasted like black dried plums and tobacco with strong tannins. I really liked it.

Tim gave us a little bonus that wasn't on our particular tasting menu. We tried the Chardotto Port Wine Cabernet Sauvignon with some dark chocolate, which retails for $75/bottle. It was very thick and sweet, and complimented both the chocolate nicely.

All in all, a nice tasting experience. The setting is a bit ornate, but the wine is very nice. Next time I'd love to visit their other location in Napa with the historic wine caves.

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