Thursday, November 3, 2011

Calistoga Wine Tasting: Jericho Canyon Vineyards

          Although off the beaten path, Jericho Canyon is no “diamond in the rough”, this place is stunning! If you're looking for a winery with a storied past, wonderful service, views to die for and outstanding Cabs; then you need make an appointment to visit Phil at Jericho Canyon. 

          As you turn off of Highway 29 onto the Old Toll Road you are welcomed by picturesque views of the sheer cliff faces of the Palisade Mountains. It is about a mile back on a straight, but narrow road. You know you've gone too far if you hit the "Hair Pin Turn", as our host advised us beforehand.

         Phil, the resident host at Jericho Canyon, greeted us at the copper bar with glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. We tasted the 2009 at $28 a bottle, and were much impressed by the tropical flavors and good balance it offered, perfect for the weather that day! After the greeting we went on a tour of the vineyard, which was a steep incline, but the views were worth it. We were literally at the base of Mount Saint Helena with breathtaking views of the property and surrounding valley floor vineyards.

        Once we got settled into our glasses of Sauvignon Blanc atop the hill, we were given a wonderful history of the property. With stories of prohibition vineyards, cattle ranches and celebrities who have lived on the property; the historical vibe was confirmed. After a few photos we headed down the hill.

        Once in the winery we were lead through the immaculate caves to a beautifully set oak table where the tasting was held.

Tasting Overview:

2006 Jericho Canyon Creek: $45 a bottle-Visions of Christmas morning flooded my head, figs, brown sugar, spice, oak and great tannins! (I guess tannins are not part of Christmas morning but that's okay.)

2007 Jericho Canyon Creek Cabernet: $45 a bottle- Although very similar in flavor and structure the 2007 showed it's true colors. It was a fun experience to try both vintages side by side. I can't wait to open a bottle of the 2007 in a year from now.

2006 Jericho Canyon Estate Cabernet: $80 a bottle-The wine comes from grapes further up the terraced hillside and offers a rich velvety tannic structure- boysenberry, back cherry, currants and a hint of minerality intersect with a good balance of alcohol and acidity. One thing the Estate Cabernet showed is that Jericho Canyon wines are age worthy.

        This was one of the best tasting experiences I have had in a long time. I highly recommend visiting Jericho Canyon, if you can get an appointment.

Jericho Canyon Vineyard
3322 Old Lawly Toll Road
Calistoga, CA 94515

FUN (but useless) FACT OF THE DAY:
Mount Saint Helena was originally named Mount Mayacamas, but the name was changed after a Russian survey party ascended the peak in 1841 and left a copper plate on the summit inscribed with the date of their visit. Mount Saint Helena is composed of uplifted 2.4-million-year-old volcanic rocks from the Clear Lake volcanic field. This volcanic activity is the source of the Old Faithful Geyser and surrounding hot springs.

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