It was recommended to me by a gentleman who I used to work with over 10 years ago and I randomly ran into one evening. I have spent a tremendous amount of time in Napa either vacationing or studying and I had never heard of the place. When I called to make a reservation, the gentleman who answered the phone seemed surprised about the call and inquired how I had heard of them. During the two days leading up to my wine tasting appointment, I visited multiple wineries and over the course of discussion, I couldn't find one local wine host who had heard of the place. Oh the mystery.
The name is Moone Tsai. It sits in the picturesque Coombsville district of Napa Valley. Situated in a location so obscure you need to set your navigation system to the name of another vineyard. There are no visible signs and upon pulling into the entrance I needed to ask directions; only to find out I was stopped right in front of the wine cave entrance. At one point I debated turning around and driving to a more "mainstream" winery. I'm glad I didn't. This was one of the best, and most surprising, wine tasting experiences I have enjoyed.
The wine tasting menu is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon with four of the five wines being either 100% Cab or blended with Merlot. The lone white wine is a 100% Chardonnay which is also the least expensive wine on the menu at $60 per bottle. Moone Tsai's flagship and most expensive wine is the Cor Leonis which offers dense aromas of plum, cassis and leather that evolve on the palate into black fruit intertwined with delicate pipesmoke and allspice, all for the price of $185/bottle. My personal favorite and best overall value is the Howell Mountain Hillside Blend (75% Merlot / 25% Cab) retailing at $90/bottle. This wine is dense and powerful with layers of black cherry, white pepper and complex dark savory flavors. You can really take your time drinking this one as the finish is a country mile.
Prior to the tasting a brief tour and history was provided. The gentleman who conducted the tour and tasting was James Tucci; an extremely knowledgeable and very friendly host who I strongly recommend. We talked at length where I learned that Robert Parker had recently tasted their wines and they were excited for the reviews to come out. This led a discussion about their philosophy of not raising prices even if they receive rave reviews; a very admirable business practice. I had never heard of Moone Tsai before but upon conclusion of my experience, the name is one that I won't soon forget.
Wine tasting are privately guided by appointment only at the Moone Tsai winery/cave located at Caldwell Vineyards: 270 Kreuzer Lane, Napa CA 94559. Phone: (707) 927-1985
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