Palates change. I have seen my own appreciation for different varietals evolve over time with the wines that I drink. When I was young, we had Liebfraumilch at the table – also know as “The Little Blue Nun.” My father was German; and this, in his mind, was appropriate for a young palate. I then fell in love with Kendall Jackson Chardonnay – which, by the way, is the number one selling Chardonnay in the U.S. No, it is not Rombauer, as popular as that wine is. Then I moved on to Merlot, Zinfandel, and so on up the ‘tannin scale’. By the way, there is a great blog written by Tim Gaiser, Master Sommelier, summarizing how he describes the journey of the palate. It’s called The Evolution of a Palate.
As of late, I have been on a Pinot tear. It has captivated my palate, and I am looking to explore and taste as many as possible. This exploration of Pinot is what led me to Failla Wines, near Saint Helena in Napa Valley. Failla is a small, boutique winery that flies a little under the radar. I had become aware of Ehren Jordan, the owner and winemaker at Failla, through his work at Turley. He led the winemaking team for several years and took the opportunity to shift gears and direction. His first vintage under the Failla label was back in 1998.
When it comes to varietals, Failla focuses on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Ehren also makes a Syrah, yet Pinot is the King at this property. I have visited twice in the last few months and enjoyed the experience both times. The folks leading the tastings are well-trained and well-educated hospitality hosts. This is not always the case. More so, the environment is relaxed and easy. There are different settings and tasting experiences you can choose from. The first visit I had was done in the grove with really enjoyable people whom I met for the first time. The second tasting took place in the cave, and I truly enjoyed the fellow tasters that I met around the table.
Ah, but what about the wine you ask? They were all very enjoyable, well-crafted wines. The Chardonnay was more Burgundian in style, more elegant and finessed than butter and oak. The Pinots were also quite enjoyable with bright fruit notes and a floral nose. These are all well-crafted wines ready for your drinking pleasure.