The day after Thanksgiving has traditionally been a day for wine tasting in my family. We pack into a couple cars and explore new and well loved wineries throughout Wine Country. This year the group was smaller, just my boyfriend and cousin, so I decided to take them to one of my favorite Yountville spots, Handwritten Wines.
Handwritten Wines, the sister property of locals favorite Jessup Cellars, is the perfect wine tasting experience for anyone looking to truly learn what makes the Napa Valley special. Nestled in a small cottage on Washington Street in North Yountville, Handwritten Wines showcases how the unique American Viticulture Areas (AVA) of the Napa Valley shape the wines that are produced here. All wines are produced from hillside or mountain fruit giving guests a unique experience when comparing wines from around the valley.
Arriving promptly for our 2:00 p.m. appointment we were greeted by Bill, the tasting room manager. Bill is the perfect host. He knows how to gage how much information you really want it hear and can adapt to any level of wine knowledge. The cottage is cozy with a beautiful wooden table that can seat up to 8 guests. Placed next to each place setting is a beautiful personalized welcome card on top of a leather portfolio containing information on all the wines featured in the tasting.
We began our tasting with the 2017 “The Author” Sauvignon Blanc. The Author is crisp and clean, a delicious Bordeaux Style white wine. I can see myself indulging with The Author on a warm summer afternoon with friends and “writing” some great memories with this delicisous wine.
My favorite wine from Handwritten is always the Pinot Noir. I am a big Pinot fan and this is one of my top Pinots. Winemaker, Rob Llyod, calls this “a Pinot Noir for Cabernet lovers”. Sourced from the Sta. Rita Hills, in Santa Barbara County, this Pinot has strong notes of strawberry jam, allspice and black cherries making it the perfect pairing for your Christmas meal.
After the Pinot we were ready for the main event! Handwritten specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon from hillside and mountain fruit throughout the valley. All of their Cabernets are made from the same clone of Cabernet Sauvignon, the wines are all made the same way by the same wine winemaker and team. When you taste the wines you are immediately struck by how different each wine is.
The first Cabernet we tried was the Carneros Cabernet Sauvignon. The Carneros region of Napa is the most southern AVA in Napa County and known for cooler climate. Historically, Careneros has been the chief AVA for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Handwritten is one of only a handful of wineries that is growing and producing Cabernet out of Carneros. On this particular day, the Carneros Cab was my favorite the Cabs, but that has changed every time I have gone. The Carneros Cab hits you fast with bold notes of pomegranate, cherry and cranberry. The finish is soft and has notes of baking spices. My favorite thing about this Cabernet is that it is easy to enjoy, even without a big steak. I am already imagining sitting in front of a cozy fire enjoying a glass watching my favorite Christmas movie.
The second Cabernet we tasted was from the Calistoga AVA. Calistgoa is the complete opposite of Carneros. Located at the Northern tip of the Napa Valley, Calistoga averages 15 degrees warmer than Carneros and is considered Cabernet country. In addition to being the warmest area of Napa Valley it also has the largest amount of volcanic soil which creates a full and rich wine. The Calistoga Cabernet is big and bold with hints of parmesan and would pair perfectly with a big juicy steak. The Calistoga was my cousins favorite and Bill suggested that he cellar one of the two bottles he bought.
Our final Cabernet was the Stags Leap Cabernet. The Stags Leap AVA is one of the viticultural areas that put Napa Valley wine on the map. The Stags Leap Cabernet is soft and would be a crowd pleaser at any dinner party.
To end our spectacular tasting we were fortunate to try the Three Words Bordeaux style blend. Handwritten was founded on the idea that each person’s handwriting is unique to them, similar to how each bottle of wine is unique to itself. The grapes that are used to create Three Words go through the whole wine making process together: they are all harvested on the same day, fermented in the same tank and aged together. This wine is the epitome of easy drinking. The perfect wine to end a perfect tasting.
The Handwritten Cottage experience is the type of experience that you don’t often find in an urban tasting room setting. Intimate and educational, it is the perfect stop for anyone curious about discovering and tasting exceptional wine.