Clos du Val was once such winery. I've had their wines before and vaguely remember enjoying them. The hostess was a very friendly sort, although she did ask me for ID to prove I was old enough to drink. Let me tell you, she made my day!
Clos du Val was set up 35 years ago by the Frenchman Bernar Portet. His mission was to produce classic estate-style wines and to that end, I think he has succeeded. I tasted and bought the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2005 Merlot.
The 2005 Napa Valley Merlot is a Bordeaux blend, as are most of the wines from Clos du Val, primarily merlot with a bit of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon added to give it structure and balance. California merlot can be flabby and jammy but this blend was most definitely not. Pleasing aromas of plum and blackfruits, a rounded, full bodied mouthfeel and juicy blackberry, licorice and sweet spice flavours. Well balanced acidity was another big plus along with a nice long finish. A smoothly elegant merlot to have on it's own or with a meal.
The 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Bordeaux style blend of cabernet sauvignon, cab franc and merlot. It's big and meaty with plenty of tannins in there to help it age gracefully. Lots of currants, blackberry and cassis with a generous bit of spiciness and cedar to finish it off. One of the perks of dining out in Napa is that all the restaurants allow you to bring in your own wine for a reasonable corkage fee (usually between $15 - $20). I took one of my purchases with me to dinner at the riverside restaurant, Angele. An unpretentious French bistro serving up tasty French classics. I opted for the cassoulet. The sausage and duck were perfectely cooked, the duck falling off the bone and the sausage nicely spiced. The cab was a nice foil, standing up to the spicy sausage and the fruit shining through (but not overpowering) the duck.
I really enjoyed the elegance and finesses of the Clos du Val wines. There was none of that in your face fruit bomb that happens so often in New World wines. Although I should have saved the Cabernet for a couple of years, I don't regret having it for dinner that night.
Clos du Val 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (rrp$40)
Clos du Val 2005 Merlot (rrp$40)