The story behind Mi Sueño Winery is truly one of the American dream realized. Owner and winemaker Rolando Herrera, Mexican immigrant, worked his way up the wine industry food chain. He started as a simple dishwasher for the famed Auberge du Soleil restaurant in Napa Valley back in 1982. Fifteen years later in 1997, after working various positions at several big-name wineries, Rolando, along with his wife Lorena, founded Mi Sueno Winery — it was the same years as their marriage. Indeed the two really did embark on a new life together that year. And so it is that they say their story is one of “love, passion, and deep understanding” — for each other, for their region, for the grapes they harvest, and the wines they make.
I wouldn’t say I’m into the rosé craze, but I will admit that more winemakers are crafting beautiful rosés, paying more attention to the specificity of flavors and textures innate in the grape’s variety. I’d say I’ve had the worst luck with Pinot Noir rosé’s — they seem to be over-extracted, too fruit forward, too one-dimensional, and, I hate to say it, too pink. But again, I’ve been noticing a difference over the past few years, and I can tell you for certain that Clos du Val has it right. Subtle aromas, hints of texture, and a sunset-orange hue: everything I wasn’t expecting from a rosé of Pinot Noir, but everything I love when sipping a rosé any day.
Clos du Val built their foundation like many Napa wineries did in the 1970s, with the great, noble Cabernet Sauvignon grape. According to the winery, the “crown jewel” of their estate program is the Hirondelle Vineyard located in the Stags Leap District. The vineyard spans 100 acres and is planted to nine different Cabernet Sauvignon Clones.
Stag’s Leap’s place along the valley floor gets love from the sun and cooling breezes from the San Pablo Bay, which means grapes plush tannins but also a vibrant acidity. This is probably why — as you’ll see in my notes — Clos du Val is able to craft an age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon that is also completely approachable now.
There are so many different styles of Chardonnay — from the crisp and refreshing, a result from 100% stainless steel fermentation and aging, to the full-out butter-bombs that occur from an abundant use of fresh oak and 100% malolactic fermentation. And then everything in between. How a Chardonnay tastes and feels is almost exclusively determined by the winemaker’s chosen process. Which Chardonnay you enjoy, well that is ultimately up to your personal palate. What I love about this Clos du Val Chardonnay is that it’s for the folks who are going to Dante’s fourth circle — the folks who can’t make up their minds. Soft palate, vibrant acidity, and depending on the temperature as milky (or not!) as you like.
Clos du Val is a name that I’d heard of but had yet to experience until just recently. The winery has been around since the 1970s Napa Valley boom and it seems that they’ve not just lasted through the years, but have developed and refined both their vineyards and their winemaking, becoming the triumph they are today. Once a Cab-dominant wine program, Clos du Val now boasts a full portfolio showcasing all the varietals the region does well. In the past I’ve been hesitant about Carneros Pinot Noirs — and, yes, I know it’s something the sub-AVA is known for. It’s just within these past two or three years that I’ve seen an increase in a more “hands-off” approach span across both grape growers and winemakers in this area, and I have to say that the results have been phenomenal (and delicious). Case and point is this estate Pinot Noir from Clos du Val.