Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Eric Guido

Napa Tasting Part 3 (Trespass & Alpha Omega)

Posted by Eric Guido, Jul 15, 2009.

To everyone that's been following these posts, this was the final leg of our journey. I really hope these posts were helpful and enjoyable. I know I had a great time reliving it all through my notes. And so unto the wineries...


I’m not a big fan of Cab Franc, or so I thought. After tasting through French Cab Franc and visiting the North fork of Long Island, I had pretty much decided that Cab Franc was not for me. Big, dark, funky beasts whose aromas reminded me of field latrines in the army… Good thing I didn’t let that deter me from visiting Trespass.

What better way to experience Trespass than to complete the Summit Experience at Pride and then drive down that long twisting road to find yourself at a dirt path with a little sign swaying in the wind “Trespass”. Pulling up to see Donny sitting under an umbrella in the middle of a field with nothing but himself and his wines to show you that Trespass has something magnificent to offer is a little surreal. Unfortunately, my wife didn’t survive the tasting at Pride, followed by that twisting drive down spring mountain, she ended up spending the stop at Trespass in the car.

But that’s okay because this didn’t feel like a regular tasting, it was more like sitting around on a summer day with a buddy popping open some bottles. It was also a welcome change tasting Trespass Cab Franc after all the Merlot and Cab at Pride. Not to mention, Donny is great for hanging out with while drinking some wine.

2005 Cab Franc - Very tight at first but after about a 1/2 hour it was explosive dark fruit, forest floor and fresh baked bread (Yeah, I know that sounds odd but it smelled GOOD!). Clean and focus with great acidity.

2006 Cab Franc - Sweeter fruit on the nose, red. Brown sugar. Performed nicely in the mouth with ginger and darker fruits. A little tight on the finish but it's young.

2006 Rendezvous - Very expressive with tobacco, cinnamon and chocolate. Sour black cherry that turned sweet on the mid-palate. Rounder than the other wines with a lush fruity finish.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - Real tight but with the stuffing to grow into something real special. After this wine opened up a bit it showed a nose of rich raspberry preserves, new leather and olive (very nice). Still tight on the palate with streamlined core of rich dark fruit and a tannic bite. I think a little time will reveal something very special in this wine.

In closing, I thoroughly enjoyed Trespass and I can't wait to spend some time with these bottles in my home where I can really watch them open up over time.

Alpha Omega

My entire trip through Napa one of the most frequently asked questions was “where are we going next?” Whenever I’d mention Alpha Omega, I’d receive a similar response. “Oh, I’ve heard really good things about Alpha Omega”. Well, I don’t know what they heard but I do know that what I tasted was sheer potential in a bottle. These last few days I’ve posted plenty of notes about incredible bottles of wine from people with an insatiable passion for making the best product they can but at Alpha Omega I felt all that, plus a sense of total determination. These may be the new kids on the block to some extent but what they’ve got cooking (or fermenting) in their winery is nothing short of spectacular.

I was met by, assistant wine maker, Henrik Poulsen in their tasting room. As we sampled each wine, Henrik would explain what their process was, why they went the way they did and how he felt about the finished product. It was amazing because there was no sales pitch, no glossing over, just total honesty and a genuine interest in what we thought about the wine.

My opinion, Alpha Omega is using some of the best fruit in the valley to make wines styled in a way that you typically don’t find in the valley. These are not big, over the top Cabernets. They are graceful and elegant wines that I would want on my dinner table with a fine meal and especially in my cellar. Wines that I could see withstanding the test of time. Onto the wines.

2008 Sauvignon Blanc was a fresh and lively wine with peach nectar, wild flowers and spring air on the nose. On the palate it presented a zippy acidity and showed pear or granny smith with orange rind on the finish. Light, fresh and begging you to take another sip.

2006 Chardonnay - Lemon tart and pine nut on the nose, a bit toasty. Full with bright citrus on the palate. Not tiring in any way. A lasting fresh finish.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - A bit closed at first but showing tart Cherry, toast, spices and cedar box. The palate was full with dark cherry that’s round, sweet and expansive on the mid-palate but carried by a nice sharp acidity.

2006 Era - Layers on the nose with cherry liquor, cinnamon graham cracker, black licorice and a bit of oak. Big dark red fruit and spicy on the palate but streamlined by a great balance of acidity. Great mix for this big wine that keeps it fresh and elegant. Long finish.

At this point Henrik took us into the winery to taste some of the 2007’s that have not yet been bottled. He also explained how important it was to them that these wines are bottled when they feel they are truly ready to hit the market. Look out, because the 2006 Cabs were good but the 2007’s… Outstanding!

(I have limited notes because we were standing and walking.)
2007 Era - Red Raspberry jam, spicy and violet candies. Lip smacking, big dark fruit all framed by a vibrant juiciness that kept it fresh yet full. Long finish.

I was however given the chance to spend some time with the 2007 Alpha Omega To-Kalon, OH BOY! Red Fruits, Raspberry, smoky cinnamon sugar, hints of vanilla. Vibrant Blueberry jam and currants on the palate with tobacco and chocolate. Blackberry, citrus finish. Long and elegant. Velvety tannin. The best 2007 I tasted on my trip, period.

And that was that. A gorgeous way to end our tasting trip. That night we had some local friends meet us at the hotel where we opened a number of bottles from our trip. Not only did I have a great time but I truly acquired a deep respect for the wineries and winemakers that I met. I will be adding many of these wines to my cellar over the following months and I can’t wait to have another chance to go back to Napa and do it all again.

Thanks to everyone who recommended these places and a special thanks to Dan Petroski (Larkmead), Merrill Lindquist (EMH), Tim Bouchet (Pride), Don Gallagher (trespass), Jean Hoefliger and Henrik Poulsen (Alpha Omega) for taking the time and for making great wine.

Hope you all enjoyed!


Reply by dmcker, Jul 15, 2009.

Well appreciated, and thanks for all the notes, Eric.

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