Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Alpha Omega Winery Revisited

Alpha Omega Winery is a lovely modern looking winery located next to Highway 29 in Rutherford.  We visited previously in March of 2011 and were especially impressed with the Alpha Omega 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Alpha Omega 2007 Proprietary Red Wine. This is one of the newer wineries in Napa Valley, having opened in 2006. The winery building is nestled next to a pond with spectacular fountains and a lovely patio with a view of the Mayacamas Mountains.  The tasting room is very spacious, with large picture windows, a vaulted ceiling and  a lovely tasting bar with Calacta Oral marble countertops. The tasting room is described as a "sophisticated yet relaxed Contemporary Barn."

Alpha Omega patio with pond and fountains

The vineyard surrounding the winery is fairly small and has mostly Sauvignon Blanc planted.  Alpha Omega obtains most of their fruit from other vineyards in nine different AVAs throughout the Napa Valley.  The focus is on the careful crafting of four wines, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Proprietary Red Wine blend. Founded by Robin Baggett and Eric Sklar, they have retained the same winemaker, Jean Hoefliger, since they opened.  Their consulting winemaker is the well known and influential Michel Rolland

Alpha Omega tasting bar
Our tasting began with the Alpha Omega 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc at $38. This is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and about half it was in two year old French oak for six months.  Light gold in color.  Aroma was mostly pear and minerality.  On the palate I got a good amount of minerality and a lot of lush melon with hints of pineapple rather than the usual grapefruit.  The ripe fruit adds some roundness to the acid, making it both refreshing and interesting with more layers than many Sauvignon Blancs.  It seems to have some of the fruit of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with some of the minerality of  a French one and is well balanced with a moderate length finish.  This is a different presentation than most Napa Valley Sauvignon Blancs.  If you sometimes find California Sauvignon Blancs to be rather one dimensional or not very interesting, you should try this one.  Great on its own, it will pair well with seafood or other dishes.  I like it better than I remember liking the nice Alpha Omega 2008 Sauvignon Blanc which also had some melon but had more grapefruit and less minerality or complexity. We both really liked this Alpha Omega 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and give it an enthusiastic recommendation. My friend, who rarely buys Sauvignon Blancs, purchased some of this.

Alpha Omega fountains

The second pour was the Alpha Omega 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay that retails at $62.  It is 100% Chardonnay. 20% of it was on new French oak for 17 months and it received 100% malolactic conversion. I had previously tasted the Alpha Omega 2008 Chardonnay which I found to have a lot of apricot on the very nice nose with citrus and vanilla on the palate.  Again, I got a very intense nose with green apples, grapefruit and apricot.  On the palate it was softer than many Chardonnays with pineapple, grapefruit, melon, banana, vanilla and some minerality.  Our host attributed the distinct banana taste to the yeast that was used. The ripe fruit and roundness was well balanced with acid.  Finish was moderately long with some nice melon, pineapple, banana and kumquat. This is a Chardonnay that is easy to recommend and should appeal to many.

Alpha Omega modern tasting building
Third up was the Alpha Omega 2010 Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine at $92.  We really liked the 2007 we tasted during our last visit, declaring it our favorite of the tasting.  This time it is a blend of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc.  Deep, dark purple in color.  I got a lot of cherry on the nose with some tobacco and cedar.  On the palate it was lush and sumptuous with plum, blackberry and mushroom.  This full bodied wine is nicely balanced with good acid and well integrated tannins.  It had a long finish.  This wine is very drinkable now.  Again, it was my favorite of the four and is highly recommended.

Alpha Omega patio

Our fourth pour was the Alpha Omega 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon also at $92.  This is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot.  Dark purple in color.  It had an intense nose of cherry and black currants.  On the palate I got blackberry, black currant, tobacco, cedar, chocolate and mocha with some spices and a long finish.  It is a very nice Cab, and I only slightly preferred the Proprietary Red.  My friend had a preference for this Cab and purchased some. Highly recommended.

Alpha Omega tasting table

Alpha Omega Winery is a Napa Valley winery well worth visiting.  The building is very interesting, the fountain and pond are a delight to view, the tasting room is very inviting and the wines are excellent.  Hospitality has always been very friendly and informative when we visited. They offer only four wines for tasting, but each is very good and two of these are white wines so there is a good balance.  Alpha Omega Winery is located right in the heart winery row on Highway 29, though, so you should expect them to be very busy on weekends or holidays, especially after 1PM.  All Napa Valley wineries in this area are very busy during peak days and hours.  We always recommend visiting these wineries on weekdays, especially Tuesday through Thursday.  If only the weekend works for you, try to visit before 1PM and then visit more remote wineries or appointment only wineries in the afternoon. 

Great place to sit and drink wonderful wines

Our previous visit was March 16, 2011 and our report may be viewed here:  Alpha Omega Winery Review

Vineyard view

Alpha Omega Winery
1155 Mee Lane
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 963-9999
Date of visit: October 2, 2013

The tasting fee is currently $25 for four premium Napa Valley wines.  The winery is open from 10 AM to 6 PM daily. Appointments are not required for the regular tasting unless you have a group of six or more.  Private Tastings, Group Tastings, and an Exclusive Private Vineyard Tasting are available by appointment.  (707-302-1131).  Please check the Alpha Omega website for more up to date information.

Alpha Omega entry sign

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