Girard Winery is a hidden jewel in Napa Valley, where you’ll find the best wine values offered in this high rent district. Once committed to discovering Girard, you’ll find yourself driving up Sage Canyon Road, witnessing a pristine region of Napa that’s hard to imagine. As you climb upward twisting and turning around Lake Hennessey, you’ll realize this is so not Napa Valley as everyone knows it, being off the beaten path of Highway 29 and the Silverado trail. As you climb upward and witness views of dynamic proportion, your breath is taken away. Arriving at Girard, you’ll be 2,000 feet above the valley floor.
Tasting wines here needs advance planning, as it’s by appointment. Not because they feel they need to be exclusive, but because of where they are… in a secluded, fashionable wine country neighborhood. It’s been mandated that they be “good neighbors,” and not have too much commercial traffic. It’s worth the call and the drive for this delicious experience.
Girard’s main winemaker is Marco DiGiulio, who’s a master at crafting wine. The winery’s proprietor, Pat Roney, is a genius at building long-term relationships between his wine and the people who enjoy it. Girard’s wines are meticulously crafted with luscious flavors, and they’re priced extremely affordably. They garner high scores and praise from wine media, and they’re loved by those who have found them. They have what Pat likes to call not just the “Wow!” factor, but the “Oh… Wow!” aspect.
doorway to winery
Girard Winery has many different varietals, each crafted in world-class style, best expressing the fruit of its region and varietal character, and designed to pair well with food. Two white wines are offered.
The 2005 Girard Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is a delicately delicious wine with flavors of green grass, grapefruit, and “Hello Kitty” always found in austere Sauvignon Blancs. No one flavor or aroma of this Bordeaux white dominates. It’s harmoniously interwoven and deliciously expressed. Summer foods that would pair well with this wine are creamy appetizers and fish dishes.
Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley has now come into its own as a preeminent expression of how this varietal should taste, if it’s anywhere near close to representing a Burgundy white. Stepping outside of Napa Valley to find grapes for their wine isn’t the norm for Girard, but the Dutton Ranch in Russian River Valley delivers what Girard is looking for in Chardonnay. The 2004 Girard Russian River Chardonnay has hints of butterscotch on the nose. Although the wine is 100 percent malolactic fermented (the secondary fermentation that converts tart, malic acid into the rounder, more buttery lactic acid), flavors of tart apple and juicy melon structure give way to an exquisite, delicately balanced finish. This is also a very food friendly wine, and would work well with foods like cold cucumber soup or chicken dishes, as well as being a refreshing, poolside sipper.
Turning to Girard’s red wines, the 2004 Napa Valley Old Vine Zinfandel comes from their highest vineyard source, a 2,700 foot elevation. Usual Napa Valley Zins lack the spice that you’d find in a Dry Creek Zin. However, Girard’s zin comes from mountainous fruit, where soils are full of iron oxide, and it’s the iron oxide that adds that pepper spice. That makes this Zin a spicy, jammy wine, just oozing with blackberry and blueberry mountain fruit flavors. A perfect complement for burgers or ribs slathered in smoky Bar-B-Que sauce, this Zin is perfect for the heartiest of foods.
Cabernet Franc is a wine that’s part of the Bordeaux Five (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot). As a stand alone varietal, it’s just a beautiful wine. Pat Roney explains that there are two kinds of Cabernet Franc: Pomerol-style is blueberry fruit, while Chinon-style is along the lines of roasted bell pepper. The 2003 Girard Napa Valley Cabernet Franc is Pomerol, and has a delicious, understated French oak nose. As I delighted in the bouquet of this wine, Pat explained that Marco DiGiulio likes to match a varietal to a forest source. (Ah… the artist’s palate is so broad. One can only begin to imagine its expansiveness!) With its delicate blueberry flavors delivered to your mid-palate, this wine would pair really well with salmon or game hens.
Girard also produces Napa Valley Red, a Meritage using any of the Bordeaux five; an Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; a Napa Valley Petite Sirah that sells out so fast it will make you head spin; and a Napa Valley Late Harvest Zinfandel. Pat explains, “But only when the season ‘makes a mistake,’ like a Brix level out of control.”
Each is just as delicious as the wines listed in detail above, and each is a tremendous value. In fact, when you find a Girard Petite Sirah, buy it as you’re guaranteed that you’ll have a wine that will last for 80 years. Pat Roney stakes his reputation on that, “If it doesn’t hold up, just come see me in 70 years, and I’ll give you your money back!” If you’d like to personally experience Girard wines, visit your local fine wine shop; or purchase their wines on-line at www.girardwinery.com.
Please call the winery if you’d like to make an appointment for your own tasting at 707-968-9297. The Website is found at www.girardwinery.com