No visit to the Napa Valley would be complete without stopping into one the hundreds of vineyards that cover the valley like kudzu. Throwing a dart at a map, I ended up at Swanson Vineyards, a cheeky little producer of delightfully decadent – yet accessible – estate wines.
Greeted outside with a glass of crisp and cheery Rosato I was soon happily ensconced in their louche and luxurious salon. The Harvey Tasting is an informally formal tasting experience that covers the breadth and depth of Swanson’s cellars: a 2008 Chardonnay was perfectly paired with caviar on potato chips; the Merlot was served with an intriguing hard cheese, Mimolette Vieux; a ripe, ruby Petite Sirah – my favorite – was made even more complex with a sliver of cave-aged Gruyere; a Vosges Haut Chocolat bonbon made the perfect foil to a 2006 Alexis, an estate blend; and paired with a well-veined Danish blue Castello, the 2005 Tardif was as magnificent as any French Sauternes.
Needless to say it made for a most entertaining – if boozy – afternoon. I left with a couple of bottles intended for home, reflecting on the benefit of occasionally embracing the music of chance.