- Rating: 96 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $50
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: true
Napa, CA 94558
The last winery for one of our weekend trips to Napa and it was indeed a good one. Once you contact the winery to setup an appointment, you’ll have a couple of options for the tasting: the Amuse Bouche building in downtown Napa or the Au Sommet vineyard on Atlas Peak. We obviously chose Atlas Peak, but if you are pressed for time (it is a 20min drive from Napa) or are a nervous driver (it’s unpaved roads only 1.5 lanes wide going up a mountain), I recommend you stay in Napa. Once you do make it to the winery though, like so many others, the view is worth it.
As you drive up the mountain, you can still see the devastating effects of the forest fires from last year: some houses completely burnt down, others nearby amazingly unscathed, and blackened plots of land that are starting to show signs of life again. I hope it wasn’t disrespectful, but multiple times, we slowed down to take pictures because of the impressions the sights left on us. When we finally made it to the winery, we took a moment to reflect on the power and unpredictability of nature, then proceeded to listen to the story the wines had to tell us.
The tasting room itself is almost a side house/renovated shed next to the main property (I think the family lives in the main building). There was a watchtower-like structure that we could climb to get a view of the valley below and also catch a glimpse of the helipad that Heidi Barrett uses to land her helicopter when she comes here. Oh, did I mention that Heidi is a collaborator with some of the wines? After some more pictures and breathing in the mountain air with no sounds but the birds chirping, we were ready to taste the wines. NOTE: We also had wines from Amuse Bouche and Coup de Foudre while at Au Sommet.
- 2017 Pret a Boire ($75)
- A rose composed of 66% Grenache and 33% Syrah. This wine was a balancing act of ripeness, freshness, acidity and body. There are few roses that command this type of price point, but I think it’s warranted. It will assuredly test your palate’s limits when it comes to subtlety.
- 2012 Richard Peterson Pinot Noir ($55)
- One of the most purchased wines by our group at this tasting. The only varietal that Heidi Barrett does not work with is the one that her father (Richard Peterson) specializes in: Pinot Noir. And this Pinot Noir is very good. Stylistically, it reminds me of Burgundy Pinots that cost much more than this bottle. This is a great price point too when you consider the other Pinot Noirs grown in the Russian River Valley nearby.
- 2015 Les Bouquinistes ($58)
- A complicated blend of Syrah, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel. This is definitely not a typical blend of varietals that you’ll see elsewhere. And because of that, you know that I bought a few bottles… The price point also makes it very attractive. The wine is also quite enjoyable in addition to being cerebral - wine experts and newbies alike should be able to enjoy this one.
- 2014 Au Sommet ($250)
- The estate Cabernet Sauvignon produced from the vines on this Atlas Peak property. Very drinkable now, as is Heidi’s style, but you can taste that there is potential for aging. The wine is also reflective of the Atlas Peak terroir and how it differs from the other mountain AVAs around Napa Valley.
- 2014 Amuse Bouche ($225)
- This is the wine for which a reporter once asked where the grapes came from and Heidi responded she would have to kill him if she told him. This Merlot from an undisclosed site was just something special; I couldn’t quite put my finger on what though in this right-bank Bordeaux style wine. Both the Au Sommet and this were wonderful, but I walked away with bottles of this because of that extra something.
- 2015 Vin Perdu ($75)
- I also walked away with bottles of this. The second label Merlot to the Amuse Bouche, this wine has great perfume, ripeness and balance on the palate. If the Amuse Bouche is quality play, this is the value play as it will stand up nicely against other estates’ premium Merlot offering. This is capable of some aging too, so don’t drink it all right away!
- 2015 Coup de Foudre ($95)
- I love the concept of this bottle; you can peel off the label and then document where/when you had it and how it made you feel. But that is window dressing as the wine is plenty good without the trick to the label. It’s also priced at the right level - it should not be compared to the Au Sommet nor Amuse Bouche, but to other estates’ $100 Cabernet.
The theme of the wines is similar to that of other Heidi Barrett style wines - great quality, fruit, midpalate, balance and the wines are approachable early in their development. The breadth of varietals and AVAs used for these wines makes it a great visit too if you want something more than just the typical Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc + Cabernet Sauvignon offering. The view, clean cool air and the drive up to Atlas Peak are nothing to scoff at either, even though it was hard to stomach at times. If you have the time, consider making a reservation for a tasting! Though, be warned, the wines are available for purchase only via 6-packs (or 3-packs in the case of the Au Sommet), so make sure you go as a group to the tasting!
Rating: 96 out of 100