Recently, I took my fourth trip to Napa and Sonoma. I visited many wineries and tasted some great wines.  The main reason for my trip was an introductory Sommelier course. There was an examination site in Chicago, but if there is any excuse to go to Napa, I'll make it.    My first visit was Chateau Montelena.  Binny's has recently received a lot of new wines from Montelena.  The wines were the real showcase, here.  

Chateau Montelena

  The 2007 and 1995 Chardonnays were great.  (It's wonderful to taste library wines, and the 1995 Chardonnay is one of the oldest white wines I've tasted.)  The 2006 Zinfandel was tasty.  Same for the 2005 Napa Cabernet.  They were very fruit forward and bright. The 2005 Estate Cabernet needs a few years in the bottle before it shows more complexity.  It was well balanced, however.    As you can see, the Montelena Estate is pretty photogenic.  It was a great start to my trip.   My next visit was Carter and Envy  They share a winery.  The gentleman pouring, Jim, was outspoken, opinionative and incredibly funny.  The wines of Carter I tasted were stellar.  Envy was pouring some 2007 vintage Cabernet and Petit Sirah.  This was my first indication that 2007 is going to be a great vintage for the Napa Valley.   I spent about two hours at Carter and Envy talking to Jim and wine geeks like me.  I decided wine is more enjoyable when you enjoy the company you are drinking it with.  Next time, we'll talk about the state of some higher end wines from Shafer, Joseph Phelps  O'Shaughnessy and Quintessa.