The Napa Valley Uncorked: The Tudal Family Wines [Part Two]

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” – Marcel Proust.

Never has a statement been more accurate than this one I shared above. It's far too easy to become jaded and cynical as a wine drinker, and especially for wine writers and wine bloggers like myself. Even though I meet hundreds of people, and taste thousands of wines over the course of a year, as a writer, you have to be careful, to stay objective and keep things fresh at the same time. Even though I've been to the Napa Valley many times over the years, I went to the Tudal Family Winery with new 'eyes' because I wanted to take it all in, with that sense of wonderment and amazement many new to the wine trail have.

That said, with each article I write, it's often a one-man mission to provide readers with current, objective, easily readable content and hopefully even a bit of entertainment about the wonderful world of wine, associated travel, food, and wine pairing adventures. So I'm spanning the globe (literally at times) looking for and eventually landing on "the intersection of where great wines meet reasonable prices."

This article is part two, so it's time to peel back their label once more and take another peek behind the purple colored curtain if you will. I'd like everyone to get to know the folks who have not only made wine their business, but also a lifelong passion. I believe I've captured those elements with part one of this two-part article about the Tudal Family Winery in the Napa Valley.

Wine is not just about what is in the bottle, it's about friends and family, it's about the place it came from, and for many, it can be about how to live our lives. As for me, I had a quick but refreshing glimpse into the Tudal Family Winery and immediately felt right at home myself. I went home with a slice of the "winery-life" that now lays tucked into the good memories of days-gone-by. During my brief visit, I felt like I was part of the wine life fabric, where I should be. I'm grateful for the invitations to return and stay once more.

Wine is alive, just because it now resides in the bottle, that doesn't mean there's no longer room for it to change, no, in fact, like wine each of us, continues to evolve and mature over time. For some of us, it's for the better, yet others may end-up being corked, there are many variables and different paths to take. Each vintage takes part of our collective history and becomes a bit like a time capsule, once uncorked years later.

As I've already mentioned, I did a bit of barrel tasting during my visit, but I had no idea that the consulting Winemaker Rudy Zuidema's dog loved barrel tasting every bit as much as I do. It was a dog-gone good day for tasting wine though.

Speaking of dogs, you'll be sure to have a visit from 'Sadie' the wonder poodle, who seems to have a knack for knowing someone has shown up on the property, as she runs up to quickly greet you. I was amazed she stood in this pose long enough for me to snap a picture, no sooner than the shutter clicked, she had quickly darted away from me and around the house. I was left thinking, "err, was it something I said" but later that evening she spent a good deal of time sitting near me as I was cooling my heels on the plush couch, editing some of the images I'd shot earlier. I'm sure my two poodles at home with my wife would have been quite jealous.

           “Color on Pinot is like clothes on a woman; it’s not needed” André Tchelistcheff. 

I just had to smile and nod in agreement, when John Tudal told me about this quote he attributes to Mr. Tchelistcheff who he must have met and heard this comment live. I couldn't locate any evidence of the quote attributable to him, but it does make a lot of sense.

I've seen many Pinot Noir's that I call "chunky" with crazy color extraction, and it makes me scratch my head a bit, making me wonder if this wine in my glass was indeed 100% as stated on the bottle. The Pinot Noir you see pictured above is nothing of the sort, not the chunky monkey I imagined looking at it before tasting. In fact its light and lean in all the right places. While sat about chatting during lunch, the abundant red fruit flavors gained new depth and elegance. Their Los Carneros Pinot Noir is a type I often associate with fruit sourced from this unique growing region. 

In a word this wine is energetic; displaying seeming endless notes of spicy strawberry, raspberry, and wet-earth aromas, bound with silky tannins This Pinot which I didn't want to stop drinking, was displaying appealing freshness and elegant floral nuances with each sip, slurp and sadly without my prerequisite burp oh-my.

I had the opportunity to taste many of their wines while at lunch, of course, one of the stand-out is their 2009 Legacy Lot Estate Grown and bottled Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is classic Napa Valley at its best; it was big rich and dense, a bottle worthy a case purchase to lay down and enjoy over the years.

While more is not always more, in this case, it indeed is, fine ground minerality, the finish is long and lasting. In this wine, you'll easily find a crush of blueberries, blackberry, and black currant liqueur and tagging along, hints of subtle smoke, subtle vanilla and burning embers. In my opinion folks this how you do it, accessible now with a bit of decanting and worth the price of the $85 admission for those who can patiently cellar this wine in the years to come.

These two wines above are just a few examples of the many outstanding wines they make, the range of wines they offer are quite diverse, from the Founder's series to their Vineyard Series; honestly, there is a bottle of wine for all price points, styles, and preferences.

Their Tudal Family 50% Napa Valley and 50% Sonoma bring the two regions together like they rarely do in real life. Their label-art has to be one of the most creative wine labels I've ever seen. Big kudos to John Tudal who designs all their labels, I think they're all very well done. The story behind this label is quite the funny one, and it's the story of two competing labels and then bright idea to make those labels merge, with half of one touching the other to form the one. The TTB had a great time approving this one.

The Tudal Family Winery has a great winemaking team, with Ron Vuylsteke [seen above] and consulting winemaker Rudy Zuidema who together form team Tudal. Together they both have a combined 70 years of crush and winemaking experience under their belts, and indeed it shows. If you'd like to find out more about their great history in the Napa Valley, please be sure to check out their 'about page' here.

I hope this article has somehow tempted you or at the very least wet your appetite to give Tudal Family Wines a swirl soon, and then contact them for a visit; you'll be glad you did.

If you've ever wondered 'why' I take the time to write about wine? I wonder about that sometimes myself. It's a fair question, one which I don't mind answering. For me the purpose is simple, this wine-blog exists to benefit and refresh every palate it touches whether you're an exceptional wine slurping machine or just the garden variety wine-swirling vino-sapiens. I hope that the content of this blog will bring refreshment; like a well-balanced wine adding value, joy & fun to any wine, tour and travel experiences.

Further, it's my hope you will take from my musings on the subject; the joy of wine drinking, tasting and travel. And also hopefully build that desire within you to explore all the beautiful aspects of this communal experience we have with the vine. Until next folks remember life is short, take the time to sit back and relax, pop a few corks, chat with your friends and family over a glass or two and as always remember to sip long and prosper cheers!


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