Wednesday, March 2, 2011

#PNV11: Cliff Lede Vineyards "Bring your Own Bottle" Night

Napa Valley Vintners (NPA) annually invite vintners, wholesalers, retailers, and members of the press to a Barrel Tasting and Auction the main purpose of which is to raise funds for the association's activities but which also serves as a vehicle for facilitating meetings and social interaction between industry players in a locale that is valued by all concerned.  This year's edition of the event, Premiere Napa Valley 11, was held on February 24 -26 and included the Auction and Barrel Tasting, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon retrospective tastings, and vintner events distributed throughout the valley.  In yesterday's post I detailed our "private-tour" activities while in Napa for PNV11.  In this post I will discuss one of the vintner PNV events that we attended.

After leaving Ovid (the last of our private tours), we headed over to Cliff Lede Vineyards for that winery's "Bring your Bottle" event.  The event name belies reality in that each attendee had to send in his/her bottle to the organizers prior to the event.  In our case, @wineontheway had received an email asking if he was ready for the event and providing a list of the wines that had been submitted to date; they were all 100-pointers.  Not wanting to be party poopers, we fed-exed a bottle of 2007 Saxum Winery James Berry Vineyard Proprietary Red (100 points, Parker) and a bottle of 2000 Chateau Pavie (100 points, Parker).

It was raining (and cold) when we arrived at the valet stand so we grabbed umbrellas (knowingly made available at the stand by event organizers) and trudged up the hill to the reception area.  Once our credentials were validated, we were each given a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (becoming a ubiquitous drink in the Valley), and ushered through doors which led onto a catwalk which, in turn, fed into the stairs leading down to the vat room and the event.  Two things struck me as I stepped onto the catwalk: a large painting of the face of Grace Kelly (I later found out that it was done by the artist Tony Scherman and was part of the winery's 2010/2011 Gallery Collection.) and the space heaters distributed throughout the event area. 

White-robed, rectangular tables were strategically placed along the T-shaped area in the which the event would be held and on each table top stood an array of the finest wines in the world.  Each table was "manned" by one or two pourers.  And there, on the central table, in the company of Mouton, Chateauneuf du Pape, Leoville Las Cases, stood our wines.  We wandered over to the table and encouraged the attendant to open the Pavie.  This was like shouting gold in a panhandling zone as attendees flocked around to partake in the bounty.  The bottle was empty in a flash.  Oh well.  I guess I will just have to settle for Mouton.

The event was very well attended and the wines were fabulous.  Two food trucks had been positioned at one side of the building and wait staff plied between the trucks and the appreciative attendees, delivering bounteous goodness on each trip.  Cliff Lede was ever-present as was Jack Bittner, the Vice President and General Manager of Cliff Lede Vineyards (and an all-around nice guy.  We had dinner with him at Bouchon post the event.).

Cliff Lede and @wineontheway

I enjoyed this event thoroughly.  The food, the interaction, the wines, and the hospitality were all in harmony and was the perfect note as a lead-in to other "public" PNV11 activities.  Late in the evening we again ran into @thewinebarn, an Orlando retailer, and his group appeared to be having a good time.

In tomorrow's post I will cover the Friday events that we attended.

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