Monday, March 14, 2011

Casa Nuestra

"Casa Nuestra" means "our house" and, true to the name, this family-owned winery goes for a casual, comfortable feel. I first tasted their wine a week ago at the Mustard, Mud, and Music festival and I liked both the Symphony (a varietal you don't see often around here, despite the fact that it was created at UC Davis. This is only the third one I've tried, the other two being at Volcano Winery at Volcano N.P. in Hawaii, and at Maple Creek / Artevino Wines in Anderson Valley) and the Tinto (a "field blend" of various varietals grown on the same field and harvested and processed at the same time together). I've also passed the winery, located on Silverado Trail north of Deer Park Road, on various occasions, but have never visited.

After dealing with the utterly unfriendly pretentiousness of Cade Winery up on Howell Mountain, the laid-back vibe here is a welcome change -- their flyer says you can "bring your dogs... or your goats!" and, indeed, they have two goats on the property, Nava (a total ham, as long as you're feeding) and A.P. (who has started to catch on and learn from Nava). This was also the site where the opening scene of the Elvis movie Wild in the Country was filmed in 1961. The owner of the property is a big Elvis fan, but didn't know this little piece of trivia when he bought the grounds, so he's pretty excited about that and you can find all sorts of little Elvis memorabilia and kitsch in the tasting room.

As for the wines themselves, they are pretty decent. They do not try to be anything they are not, and the pricetags are accordingly reasonable -- most are in the $20-$30 range, with a few in the $30-$40 range. As far as I know, there's no tasting fee, and we got a discount (10 or 15 percent... I never actually checked) for being local Napa Neighbors.

The reds are very drinkable, but personally I find them a little bit sour or acidic for my tastes (but Sarah is more into that); we did end up buying a 100% Carignan ($32) because that is a grape you don't see every day and it had a nice inky, berry-filled flavor to it, sort of like a halfway point between merlot and syrah. It was also from Contra Costa county, which is another thing you don't see every day (maybe because it doesn't have the brand-name cache that putting "Napa" on the label does).

However, I feel their whites shine even more -- as already mentioned, I like the Symphony which is a hybrid of Muscat and Grenache Gris varietals which tends to make a semi-sweet wine with hints of tropical passionfruit, honeysuckle, and pineapple tones. Casa Nuestra's (from Lodi grapes) is true to this, and is $20/bottle. Casa Nuestra also makes a good off-dry riesling; often, these types of rieslings have a biting acidity or tartness to them, but this one ($22/bottle) is just light, smooth, and refreshing. It goes down like water.

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