Friday, December 01, 2006

wonderful (rare) wines in Napa/magnificent Mel's diner in San Fran

It is always a treat for me to romp through Wine Country (anywhere), but especially in Napa, and find new and especially rare wines.

I had the pleasure of tasting many new wines and buying some as well starting with the bold REGUSCI ZINFANDEL and going onto the most rare SMALL BLOCK (www.smallblockwines,com) Cabernet Sauvignon. The former is from the maker of REGUSCI MERLOT which is easily available at stores, but their superb Zin is sold only at the tasting room in Napa. The latter is made by expert winemaker MARK MOFFETT of the renowned Livingston-Moffett wines. That establishment is now shut down as John Livingston decided to sell his vineyards and properties several years ago. His son, Mark, now produces two or three wines a year in amounts as small as 24 cases (this year's Merlot is already sold out!).

Yesterday's tastings brought me to HOPE & GRACE located in the back of an adorable antique store in the Beard Plaza in Yountville. Sandwiched between the French Laundry and Bouchon (who could ask for a more delectable spot?), the wines are made by the same winemaker as Regusci (his daughters are Hope & Grace). Check out www.hendrickswinescom and if you get to taste the SLEEPY HOLLOW VINEYARD Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia you will definitely be in wine heaven.

My last stop is always a treat each time I go to the Vintner's Collective in downtown Napa ( which offers tastes of dozens of wines from many different small producers. I found one of my favorite Cabs here years ago from FRIAS, and this time I discovered a new hit SHOKET Cab which is a real secret and steal as the vines are next door to the famed Della Valle and the wine is made by the same women who makes Screaming Eagle; it just doesn't get any better than this.

This morning I had the opportunity to take an opera client/friend to breakfast here in town and discovered MEL'S DRIVE-IN which is the essence of a 60's diner right near the Opera House (1050 Van Ness Ave) and has several locations in town ( I loved the coffee and was thrilled with the Low(er) fat TURKEY HASH with Poached Eggs and Tasty Home Made Potato Slices. I might just go back to try the Meat Loaf, but I know this is a place for breakfast lunch or dinner if you want simple, fun and good.