Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vacation log, part four

After the triumphs of our first two days in wine country, TBO and I were heady with success--nothing could stop us from greatness now. We had wanted to lunch at Julia's Kitchen, named after Julia Child (who had donated her spirit and apparently some hardware, if not her physical presence), which is housed at COPIA, a sort of food/restaurant museum located around the corner from our hotel. So we wouldn't jeopardize our status of not having reservations, we decided to stick close by. TBO had expressed interest in trying a sake winery that was a short drive south, so we headed in that direction. The guidebook we bought that we had found most useful had some pretty vague description of its whereabouts, and ominously enough, I lost my way on the first try at finding it. The second attempt proved true, but as we drove up to the facility, we both noticed that it seemed rather devoid of habitation. And indeed, when we got out of the car, we saw that the entire place had been emptied out--the only thing left of the Hakusan Sake Gardens at 1 Executive Way in Napa California was a shell of a building and some pretty landscaping. Feeling awfully deflated, TBO and I trudged back to the car, wondering what on earth could have happened and then we checked the publication date of our trusty guidebook thinking that it must have been woefully out of date. Appearances to the contrary, things clearly move fast in wine country--the book was published in 2005!
Boo.
We drove off to COPIA saddened.
After wandering around a couple of the exhibits, our good luck momentarily derailed by the sake factory debacle, we chose to try to get into Julia's Kitchen before the masses of people arrived, reservations in hand. Not a problem, even given my deplorable lack of proper attire. The restaurant was delightful; TBO had antelope!
Following a very filling lunch, we thought we would take in a tasting or two. According to our bartender, COPIA had just started hosting tastings a couple months ago, and since they are not affiliated with any particular winery, they can choose to open anything they want for those wealthy enough to afford the fees. The first "flight" (the term used to describe a selection of various wines) of wines we tasted were a set of 3 different ros├Ęs, usually thought of as being beginner's wines. These 3, though, were quite dry and flavorful, and paired with the various cheeses and fruit included, proved nifty. (The amount of food provided made me wonder why I stuffed myself for lunch, but who knew?) We had such a good time with this flight that we chose to stick around for another. TBO chose their Spanish flight, and I couldn't resist trying the dessert wines.
Dessert wines are usually pretty sweet and sticky, with aromas of honey and various fruits predominating. Even for someone with my sweet tooth, they are almost too rich. Almost. And the first wine was no exception, but then I smelled the second--what a radical change. Both TBO and I noticed something pretty unique coming off that wine, but it took us a few guesses to nail it; this wine smelled like green beans! We excitedly and good-naturedly told the bartender about this (hey, we still liked it, after all), and she was seemingly horrified by our obvious lack of oenological finesse, as she tried to corral our description back into the acceptable canon of terms by asserting that there might be some "herbal" overtones. She was wrong; this was green bean wine!
The next dessert wine was just as startlingly different, but this time, instead of honey, violets, oranges, or any other of the normal dessert wine fragrances, both TBO and I agreed that what we were smelling was nothing so much as the distinctive aroma of inflatable plastic! We chose not to share that identification with the bartender, who had been so kind (she even found out from a friend of hers into sake that Hakusan had closed about 6 months earlier due to some bizarre machinations of trade regulations) to us that we didn't want to force her to call security on us for our immediate removal. After perusing the gift shop, we ended another fine day.

2 Comments:

Blogger sporksforall said...

I love the way inflatable plastic smells! It's one of my fave smells ever. I wonder if I would like the wine.

3:01 PM  
Blogger scout said...

I do so love green beans: fresh, canned, whatever. But green bean wine, maybe not so much. I hope you don't try to slip any in when we come over to try your sparklies.

6:22 PM  

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