Buonocristiani, Bell, Hollywood & Vine, Raymond and Goose Crossing

3 Jun

Today (5/30/12), our last day visiting wineries in CA, was a quite varied line-up, from Buonochristiani, a

Lori and Ray at Caves

small cult winery that took us up into the hills to see a new Caves-Site in progress, to Bell, a medium-sized winery with wonderfully restrained terroir driven wines (and a unique Clone 6 Cab), to Hollywood and Vine, with Hollywood roots (truly boutique), to Raymond, which has a good name, value wines, and is dedicated to education and biodynamic wine-making. We finished this trip to wine country at Goose Crossing, which doesn’t distribute (but can mail to MA).

View to Soda Canyon

Buonocristiani – is run by four brothers. Jay-Bone (as he’s called) came into our shop about a year ago. I wasn’t interested in bringing in another Cab or Merlot from CA at that time, but after tasting his wine, immediately brought in their OPC Cabernet blend and Osso Anna Merlot. When the OPC ran out, we brought in the Osso Anna Cabernet. They all become favorites for several customers (most everyone who tried them). Jay invited us to meet the next time we visited Napa…so there we were. Jay was busy with the Napa Auction, so brother Matt “showed us around”. That meant driving us up Soda Canyon and up to a perch where caves are being dug into the mountainside, to hear about the winemaking/storage/offices/wine tasting/event venue which 3 small

View of Napa Valley

wineries will share. As we approached, several deer curiously checked us out before taking off. The view in one direction is of Soda Valley and of Napa Valley in the other direction. Along the way Matt opened up several of their delicious wines, a sauvignon blanc, rose, the Osso Anna merlot and OPC cab. When completed, the facility will be fabulous…a destination. We found at that there’s a glitch in the distribution of Buonocristiani wines in MA, so we’re going to do what we can to find a way to continue having their wines in MA.

Bell Wine Cellars
We tasted Bell wines shortly after opening Pairings, and love their flavor, restraint and, in the case of the Clone 6 Cab, uniqueness. We carry 5 of their

Bell Vineyards

wines…unusual to have so many wines from one winery. Sandra Bell presented her wines at one of the special Tuesday Pairings, and kindly hosted us at the winery in Napa. Sandra poured us a glass of lovely chardonnay (which we have at Pairings) and toured us around the facility and to the edges of the vineyard, explaining the rationale for how the vines are handled, based on the local weather and geography.

Bell does a wine and cheese pairing, which I recommend. It includes 4 cheeses (all of which are at Pairings – Humboldt Fog, Beemster XO, Grafton Cheddar, and Fourme D’Ambert Blue) and five wines, including their famous (and special) Clone 6 Cab (their web site has a great explanation about Anthony Bell’s research that lead to the Clone 6 wine http://www.bellwine.com/) . We finished up with a restrained Syrah (available at the Tasting Room), different from the one at Pairings, which is more fruit forward and lush. It seemed surprising that the Syrah would come last, after the two cabs, but we saw why when we re-tasted the Cabs again after the Syrah…for me they tasted more acidic and minerally. As Sandra said, they just don’t taste as good. One of those examples of how much the order of tasting wine (and food) can matter. Bell is doing an amarone style version of Clone 6 that would be fascinating to try.

Hollywood and Vine Cellars is so small it not only doesn’t have a tasting room, it doesn’t have a winery (3000 cases total). We met with Bev Brown outside on the deck at the Laird Family Winery, a facility where 60 different organizations do some part of their winemaking. The owner of Hollywood and Vine writes and directs made-for-TV movies and was an actor (the Fall guy, Designing Women…), and the winemaker is a famous woman consultant. A few weeks ago we tasted their 2480 chardonnay, which is truly unique….really. It’s hard to describe, with delicious tropical fruit, complexity with suppleness, a good mouth-feel, both full-bodied and long….You can taste it a Pairings in the evening on Tuesday June 12. The 2480 comes from the address of the property that got the owner started in the wine business. In addition, we tried the entry level, Short Ends cab and then their fantastic 2480 Cabernet, chocolate with hints of black fruit; delicious, fresh, long and bold. We’ll see about finding a spot for it at Pairings.

Raymond Vineyards has been bought since we first visited it about 10 years ago. My original interest stemmed from the name, Raymond, but I found the wines to be good. Since then the wines have improved and the price decreased…the two we have at Pairings (a chardonnay and a red blend) are great

Barrel Concept

values. The new owners are dedicated to education, organic and biodynamic methods. An outside area (more like a park) has exhibits demonstrating the different aspects of biodynamism and how it impacts the environment and, of course, wine. Inside are 2 interactive areas, one with different material to experience different feels (e.g silky) and another for experiencing difference fragrances. There’s also a crazy, dark, night club kind of room for tasting their high end wines. The wines we tasted, as expected, are exceptional values. In an interesting innovation called Barrel to Barrel, essentially bag in a barrel, one can have 3 or 10 liter barrels for serving wine aimed at glass pours in restaurants, but 3 Liters (i.e. equivalent to a case of wine) could easily work in the home or for parties. Also, anyone named Raymond (aka me), can pay a dollar to join the Raymond club and get a ½ bottle of Cab, which I did.

Goose Crossing – was our last winery of this trip to Wine Country.…on a whim, because of a recommendation at breakfast. Goose Crossing isn’t distributed, selling all 9,000 cases to club members and out of the tasting room, which is a good business model and impressive. However, Adam says they can ship to MA. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit. The wines are nice and somewhat different from most wineries in the area, as they are known more for their whites. The chenin blanc is outstanding, along with the orange muscat dessert wine. Their Howell Mountain cab had been decanted for many hours and still needed time…a very big cab….a nice end to our research trip to Sonoma and Napa.


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