This post is part of a larger Napa Valley series centered around the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef's Competition. To see other posts in this series, check out the Napa Valley Guide.
When S. Pellegrino said that we would be VIP guests, they were not kidding. Throughout the weekend, while we were not attending the cooking competitions, S. Pellegrino set up several events for their VIP guests, including visits to two vineyards! Having never been to one before, this was quite exciting for me.
Del Dotto Vineyards
Del Dotto Vineyards is a family owned winery that makes small production premium wines. One of their most interesting features is this ancient wine cave, hand-dug by Chinese laborers in 1885, which they opened to the public in 1997. The Del Dotto family realized that cave-aged wines were "more voluptuous and opulent than wine aged in modern facilities."
We had a chance to visit these caves and taste various wines straight out of the barrels! We even did an oak barrel challenge where we tried the exact same wine from French and American barrels. Can you guess which one we preferred?
The Oak Barrel Challenge
The Del Dottos have been experimenting with various oak barrels from France, the U.S., and Russia. We enjoyed a fun little experiment where we tried the exact same wine aged in two different barrels: one French, one American. I much preferred the French oak barrels, which unsurprisingly also happens to cost about 3x as much! Bryan thought that the wine made with American oak barrel was much sweeter, and also preferred the French oak version.
Not only do they have an awesome wine cave, they also have a beautiful tasting room adorned with massive chandeliers and marble arches. After an hour or so of tasting wines from all the barrels, we entered this magnificent room for dinner.
That magnum bottle is bigger than I am!
We enjoyed a lovely dinner catered by Hurley's from Napa Valley. It was delicious - complete with a fresh multi-colored beet salad with burrata on top (I love burrata!), rabbit, and beef short ribs.
There was no shortage of S. Pellegrino or Aqua Panna!
At the end of the day, they handed everyone a very unique bottle of wine (picture shows front and back). Can't wait to try it! Thanks S. Pellegrino and Del Dotto Vineyards for organizing such a unique event! We had a fabulous time.
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