As Carnac the Magnificent from the old Johnny Carson show would have said when he held the sealed envelope to his turban;
"Freemark Abbey Winery."
Upon opening the envelope the question on the card would have asked: "Name the 130 year old winery having the first female owner in the Napa Valley."
Okay, in defense of Carnac, the usual answers he gave were a lot more humorous. In my usage, it's just factual, and as much as I like to try and be funny (note I said try), in this case, this starts a very long series of events in the winery's history. It was the only winery in the Judgement of Paris in 1976 to have TWO wines entered; a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2016 their Freemark Abbey 2013 Spring Mountain District “Fiftieth Reserve” Bordeaux-style red blend was selected by the NFL as its first and only commemorative Super Bowl 50 wine.
So why the history lesson about Freemark Abbey? Well, I once again had the opportunity to attend a tasting of their wines at Sixty Four Wine Bar. I've mentioned them in a couple of previous Wine of the Week posts. This time they were featuring 5 wines from Freemark Abbey; Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Napa Cabernet and the Rutherford Cabernet. A very nice lineup.
I think what makes their tastings so inviting is that so far they have had someone representing the winery at these tastings. This time, Barry Dodds, the Estate Ambassador, was in attendance and was able to really bring the winery to life. Whether drunk at the winery or for a special occasion, I think to have those ambassadors there raise the tasting a notch and make it much more enjoyable and memorable. That's got to add to the overall enjoyment.
Oh, and the wines weren't bad either!
Not wanting to make this a Wine of the Week post, but rather an overview of the event, it started with the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. From Napa Valley and loaded with smooth fruit and nice spicy notes. Next up the Chardonnay, also Napa Valley, with apple and a slight vanilla and oak finish. On to the reds. The Merlot had nice fruit a slightly spicy edge and good finish. So much for Merlot being dead! The last two were both Cabernets, one from the Napa Valley region and the second from the specific Rutherford area within Napa. Both wonderful wines. For drinkability, the Napa takes the lead with slightly darker richer fruit on the palate where the Rutherford needs a little more time in bottle to help round out what they call that "Rutherford Dust." Drinkable now, just remember to decant to give it some time to open.
What helped finish making the evening remarkable was my staying to try one of Sixty Four's flatbreads on their menu. I chose their Beef Short Rib Flatbread with crispy onions, blue cheese, peppadew peppers and olives. This is considered one of their Signature Dishes and it is! With either one of those cabs, it was masterful.
If you're looking for some suggestions for some very good wines, think Freemark Abbey.