Unfortunately, due to a canceled flight on United Airlines to London from San Francisco and United's inability to reschedule our flight for several days with the original non-stop itinerary, Mary Claire and I found ourselves at home in Blackhawk this past week. I believe that United Airlines is still finding their fleet compromised with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner continuing to be grounded around the globe. They have announced that their 787s will be grounded at least until June 5th, but they could fly earlier if a fix is approved for their lithium batteries. In the interim, we have rescheduled our trip, but more on that later.
We certainly had many things to catch up on, as we had not been home in the Bay Area for more than a month, but Mary Claire suggested that a Friday trip to Napa Valley would be a welcome addition to our schedule.
Most of our visits over the past several years have been to Sonoma Valley, which in many ways reminds us of Napa Valley 20 years ago. The pace is slower and the tourism and traffic are more manageable. We decided to go for lunch with our friends the Riggs.
We started out at Domaine Carneros. This beautiful French Chateau sits in the Carneros Appellation and was founded by Champagne Taittinger. Just before noon on a gorgeous spring-like day, we had a delightful bottle of Domaine Carneros Brut Rose Cuvee de la Pompadour. It is named for the "great courtesan and mistress of Louis XV" and comprised of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay. With hints of strawberries and roses, this well-balanced rose brut was a wonderful way to take in the splendor of California wine country while sitting outside. Domaine Carneros is approximately 5 miles from the town of Napa and almost equal distance from the town of Sonoma.
We moved on for a late lunch to Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford. There is not a better view of the Napa Valley than the one you have from this classic restaurant when you are sitting on their deck. You can sit in either the Bistro or the main dining room and both have ample outdoor seating. "It was these breathtaking valley views that inspired French-born restaurateur Claude Rouas to recreate the sun-drenched ambiance of a Provencal restaurant in the California Wine Country." (Auberge Du Soleil website)
Only a very small amount of the vineyards in Napa are planted with Pinot Noir. Most of the best Pinot Noir wines come from the Sonoma Coast, while the climate in Napa Valley is ideally suited to the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal. On Friday, though, Auberge Du Soleil was promoting a 2009 El Molino Pinot Noir from Napa Valley, which went perfectly with our meals. El Molino was one of the earliest wineries in Napa Valley, as it was founded in 1871. It was operated until prohibition and eventually restored in 1981. (El Molino website) They produce small quantities of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
After a leisurely lunch, we worked our way home to Blackhawk. It was a wonderful March 1st, which also marked the first day of "sequester" in the U.S. We seemed very far away from the ongoing fiscal battles in Washington, D.C. After several weeks of heated rhetoric from the White House, the world did not end on Friday and both sides promised to move forward without shutting down the government.
It was fascinating theatre during the week, watching the administration carry on a battle with the Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame. He had the audacity to point out that as he reported in his most recent book, The Price of Politics, that the sequester, while a terrible way to go about cutting expenses, was originally proposed by the current administration to avoid having to deal with the deficit issue prior to the November presidential election. It turned out that Gene Sperling, President Obama's Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, was the administration's representative that made the threat that Woodward would "regret" questioning the administration's account of the impending sequester. (Politico)
We have rescheduled our trip to London for early May, but in the interim, I will go London on March 14th for the Global Custodian Europe Awards for Excellence Dinner at the Savoy Hotel. This year the hosts will be Charlie Ruffel, Founder and Director of Asset International, and Lexi Deluca, our Senior Managing Editor. Our dinner speaker will be Sir Clive Woodward. He is a former English ruby union player and coach, who coached the English team from 1997-2004. In 2003 under his direction, England won the Rugby World Cup. In 2004 he released his autobiography, titled Winning! (Wikipedia) I trust that it will be an outstanding evening