My most precious takeaway from the tasting at Bouchaine was learning that one of the owners is Sergei Rachmaninoff’s great niece.
I wish Bouchaine’s wines were as passionate and charismatic as Rachmaninoff’s music. Of the six wines we tasted – two chardonnays, two Pinot Noirs, a Cab and Rosé of Syrah – none left a particularly lasting impression.
Bouchaine winery and vineyards are in Carneros AVA, one of Napa’s coolest sub-regions. The focus is therefore on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Bouchaine makes several estate and single-vineyard wines from both varieties. They also source Cabernet Sauvignon from Coombsville and Syrah from Sonoma County.
The tart, food-friendly 2014 Rose of Syrah ($23, alc. 13%) with aromas of roses and strawberries was my favorite of the flight. Of the two Chardonnays my pick was 2013 Chen D’Argent ($30, alc. 13.8%) fermented and aged in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation. It offered aromas of green apples, apple kernels, lemon, and peach, and fresh, lean palate.
Of the two Pinots, I preferred a little lighter 2012 Terraces Pinot Noir ($60, alc. 13.8%), which was still a hot-climate, concentrated Pinot with aromas of dried black cherries, red fruit jam and cinnamon sticks.
The owners, Gerret and Tatiana Copeland, started the wine-making project (in partnership with other investors) in 1981 by purchasing 30 acres of vineyards and an old winery in Carneros sub-region in the south of Napa Valley. Over time, they added 60 more acres, renovated the facilities and became sole owners.
Gerret Copeland is a Du Pont family descendant (his father was the company’s 11th president) and his wife Tatiana is Rachmaninoff’s great niece and UC Berkeley MBA graduate. The owners live on the East Coast, visiting Napa a few times a year, and are known for their philanthropic work.
The winery, which produces 22,000 cases of wine a year, can be considered a mid-sized producer in Napa Valley.
I had an unexceptional tasting with a not very informed host. Bouchaine offers a self-guided vineyard walk which we didn’t take because of much rain days before. Tasting wines on the porch in warmer weather and taking the walk through the vineyards may bring about a more pleasant experience.
Address: 1075 Buchli Station Road, Napa. The tasting room is open daily from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm November to March, and daily from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm April to October. The flight of six wines (‘Estate Series Tasting’) is $30, no appointment is required.