A Visit to Palmaz Vineyards in Napa Valley

Several years ago I was out in Napa Valley with only a few hours left on the last day of my trip. Someone strongly recommended Palmaz Vineyards as a must. I wasn’t familiar with them and since it was appointment only I figured I’d get there next time. But I called anyway and they graciously fit me in. I had a wonderful time, loved the wines and have been meaning to get back ever since. We all know the saying about best laid plans…

So finally when I was out in Napa this September I made my way back. Palmaz Vineyards is one of the most technologically advanced and flat out gorgeous properties and wine making facilities in Napa Valley. Considering the wealth of extravagant palaces in the valley, that’s saying a lot. Touring the multi-level facility which sits in the side of a mountain (Mount George) quite naturally is a jaw dropping experience in and of itself. And while there’s a sense of the technology everywhere you turn and the whole place is beautiful, it’s also warm, charming and a most comfortable spot to spend a few hours.

From the impressive caves and myriad levels, to the computer displays that project onto the ceilings with up to the second details about what’s in every tank, it’s all pretty futuristic, except for the fact that it’s going on right now. And while it all looks shiny and cool it’s important to note that everything they’ve built and all that technology stands in service to the grapes. All of it allowing the folks at Palmaz Vineyards to showcase the sense of place that grapes grown in their unique spot in Napa Valley can exhibit.

After touring the facility both inside and out I sat down to sample the current release wines. Each wine was masterfully paired with a little bite of food.

Palmaz Vineyards 2013 Amalia Chardonnay ($55)

Fruit was sourced in the east and west sides of Napa valley. It was 100% barrel fermented; 65% of the barrels (French oak) were new. 1,193 cases were produced. This Chardonnay opens with a modestly bright nose that shows off yellow melon and flowers. The palate is stuffed with golden delicious apple and lighter, but present tropical fruit flavors, as well as Anjou pear characteristics. A host of baker’s spices emerge on the finish alongside a touch of marzipan and minerals. This is a fresh and focused Chardonnay that while delicious on its own pairs beautifully with food. Try it with Indian cuisine.

Palmaz Vineyards 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($145)

Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (97%) with bits of Petit Verdot (2%), and Cabernet Franc (1%) blended in; this is the flagship offering from Palmaz. It was aged over 18 months in 85% new French oak. 1,927 cases were produced.  The nose here is loaded with big, rich, dark berry aromas and a subtle hint of vanilla bean. Raspberry and black cherry characteristics dominate the full bodied palate along with bits of graphite. The long and persistent finish shows off chicory, dusty cocoa and black pepper spices. This is simply an outstanding Cabernet and one of the best in Napa Valley. The 2012 vintage is currently available for pre-order.

Palmaz Vineyards 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon "Brasas" ($80)

This offering is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (77%), Malbec (7%), Merlot (7%), Petit Verdot (6%), and Cabernet Franc (3%). This wine is produced specifically with the intent of pairing it with grilled meats and BBQ. Bold black fruit aromas light up the nose. The palate is stuffed with blackberry, boysenberry and a host of spices. Kirsch liqueur, sweet dark chocolate and more emerge on the long finish. This Cabernet is big and bold with firm tannins, perfect to pair with the slabs of meat for which it was intended.

There are several other wines in the portfolio in addition to these; Riesling, Muscat, and a third Cabernet Sauvignon among them. They also produce an Estate Olive Oil. Their portfolio is a lovely one, well worth investigating in full. Put them on your itinerary next time your travels take you near Napa Valley, you’ll leave feeling warm, engaged, and impressed.