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Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living. - Robert Mondavi

Robert Sinskey Vineyards - Elegant, Organically Grown Wines for Food Lovers




Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Experience: This is a Napa winery experience that’s suitable for everyone.  Robert Sinskey Vineyards, boasts a recently remodeled modern winery, caves and tasting room off the Silverado trail off Oak Knoll Road, beautiful culinary gardens and orchards, a coi pond, and an extensive culinary program and team that prepares a custom tasting menu daily from the Vineyard Kitchen. The team here cares a lot about hospitality and there is a tasting experience t suit every preference whether it’s a relaxed tasting at the communal table, a tour through the gardens and caves, or a food and wine pairing out on the sun-speckled terrace.  RSV features over thirty varieties of wine to suit every palette so plan on lingering here while you embark on your own tasting adventure.  Sinskey is also one of Napa’s first organic and biodynamic wineries, certified C.C.O.F., and you’ll also notice the orchards, organic gardens, owl boxes and animals that round out the RSV ecosystem and contribute to the terroir-driven wines.


The Credo: At RSV, winegrowing begins with the land and embraces the “whole farm” philosophy of interrelationships and biodiversity of nature, embracing natural processes to grow healthy grapes that become vibrant, living wines.  Robert Sinskey and team believe that wine is best complemented by food and meant to be shared communally which is why every tasting is accompanied by a culinary pairing cooked fresh from locally sourced or farmed ingredients, many from the RSV organic gardens.  Their guiding principle when it comes to the craft of winemaking is that “wine is not an athletic event”, where elegance over brawn is the house style, resulting in balanced wines with great acidity that pair really really well with foods.  An anomaly in the Napa Valley, RSV doesn’t even submit their wine for review by score-centric critics because they don’t believe that wine should be tasted and judged in a competitive atmosphere, devoid of food on the table.


Unique Offering: There has been many occasion in Napa when one faces the dilemma of when to squeeze in time to eat between an afternoon of wine tasting.  If you’re planning to visit Robert Sinskey, the one thing you don’t have to plan is where to stop for lunch; every guest who visits RSV will be treated to delicious food pairings to complement the wines, so don’t fret if you arrive with an empty stomach.  We toured the winery and grounds with our guide, JB, before settling outside on the terrace and while we weren’t expecting such a robust offering, to our surprise (and delight), one of the most beautiful cheese and charcuterie boards was presented to us.
Home-made gougeres, fresh and dried fruits from the organic gardens, honey from the bee hives, and local cheese and charcuterie, paired beautifully with the Abraxas wine (a blend of riesling, pinot gris, pinot blanc and gewurztraminer).  To follow, we snacked on an appetizer of roasted chicken with mushroom stuffing, cooked in the wood-fired oven.  The earthy mushroom notes and smoky chicken paired beautifully with the Capa pinot noir.  To finish, we were treated to a display of sinful house-made petit desserts served with the late harvest pinot gris. Robert Sinskey’s pairing notes booklet even comes with beautifully photographed recipes from the Vineyard Kitchen so you can whip up delicacies like the wild mushroom and cheese souffle at home.  


The Team: Robert Sinskey is a native Californian who received his BA in Fine Arts from Parson’s School of Design and didn’t fall into winemaking until later in life when a six-month assignment helping his father turned into a twenty-five year career making “wines of character that pair well with cuisine”.  
Jeff Virnig, RSV’s winemaker, found his calling to the wine industry significantly younger than Robert He became one of the youngest winemakers in Napa working for RSV in 1991 after getting a BS in agriculture business management from Cal Poly and working at Mayacamas winery and at RSV as assistant winemaker.  Jeff has been instrumental in helping develop RSV’s vineyards as well as wines, emphasizing the importance of improving wine quality through sustainable farming, and helping vines achieve natural balance while growing.
Rob and Jeff both hold the philosophy that artisanal winemaking begins with the care of the land and have farmed their vineyards organically since 1991, honing the biodynamic process and attempting to leave a minimal footprint on the land.  75% of the energy used at the winery is sourced through solar power and they use bio-diesel, made from used restaurant oil to power their trucks and tractors. Robert and Jeff’s conscientious business practices have helped to define the RSV brand as a pioneer of sustainable winemaking in the industry.


The Wines: While there is an extensive array of varietals to try at RSV, there is a consistency in style that ties the portfolio of wines together. They are all made with a higher acidity and elegance that makes them excellent food wines - so think about picking up a few bottles to bring to your next dinner party!  The RSV website does a beautiful job of categorizing the wines by color, varietal, and special release making it both easy to navigate when searching for just the wine you have in mind, and also fun to explore.  The tasting experience is similar. Rather than sticking to a pairing that has been pre-planned and standardized for all guests, at RSV, you can tell your wine guide what you’d like to taste, or let them learn your style and make recommendations as you move from one wine to the next.  
NOTABLE: Check out the POV collection, a wine that is impressive to drink and also to bring to dinner as each bottle features a stunning black and white photo taken by Robert Sinskey himself.


Visit Details:  While reservations are highly recommended, RSV has the hospitality credo of welcoming everyone to the winery. Your options below:
  • “A Perfect Circle” gives guests the opportunity to explore the caves and gardens, tour the cellar and indulge in a 3-course tasting of seasonal dishes from the Vineyard Kitchen accompanied by a flight of RSV wines. By appointment at 11am and 1pm
  • “The Communal Table” allows guests to enjoy a flight of wines seated in the Great Hall, Terrace or Fig Garden with a communal group of up to 8 people.  An RSV Wine Informant will guide you through a flight of RSV wines accompanied by tastes from the Vineyard Kitchen. By appointment
  • “Unscheduled Flight” for those who prefer spontaneity, this is the first come, first served option for guests to belly up to the tasting bar and enjoy seasonal tastes from the kitchen paired with a flight of RSV wines. No appointment necessary, though there may be a wait for this option during peak times



Tasting Notes:  It’s hard to select which wines to feature here, but here’s a diverse array of the RSV offering and some of my favorites.


Abraxas, Vin de Terroir, Los Carneros 2013
This wine is fun in so many ways. From the bottle (which looks like an oversized riesling bottle) to the blend of grapes (riesling, pinot gris, pinot blanc and gewurztraminer), it’s a great wine to sip on it’s own on a hot day, but pairs beautifully with so many foods, from spicy foods to vegetable dishes to seafood, it’s a great wine to pair with foods that can be otherwise tricky to balance with wine.  The wine has aromas of pear and almond and lychee, with an old world style, but bright, minerality.  It mas a medium body and long finish with tasting notes of peach, lime and even melon or grapefruit rind.


Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Los Carneros 2015
I first tasted this wine at a blind tasting and have never forgotten it’s subtle elegance and the color, the palest peach hue, is just lovely. It’s a stunning wine with aromas of peach and apricot, strawberries and citrus notes of grapefruit and lime.  The wine is vibrant with fruit and also has some savory herbaceous qualities which makes it the ideal wine to pair with virtually everything.  


Pinot Noir, Capa Vineyard, Los Carneros 2012
This pinot noir is surprisingly full bodied and bursting with ripe, red berry notes. It has generous, bold fruit flavors, like ripe cherries, but also savory qualities with touches of dried rose, tea and tobacco.  This wine beautifully bridges old world with new world styles, and is perfect to drink now or set down to age gracefully for years to come.




 

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