Quixote Winery Review
Address: 6126 Silverado Trail Napa,California 94558.
Phone Number: 707-944-2659
Tasting Hours: By appt. Wed-Mon 10:00-4:00
Region: Napa Valley AVA, Stags Leap District AVA, California
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
Review Date: 5/4/2014
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
Founded in 1996 and producing their first vintage in 1999, Quixote Winery is one of the Stags Leap Districts hottest new wineries. Carl Doumani, owners of the neighboring Stags Leap Winery, wanted to create a small, boutique winery that focuses almost exclusively on one of his favorite grapes, Petite Sirah.
Doumani also wanted to produce a winery that was sustainable and produced organic wines. Doumani persuaded Viennese architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser to design the winery, and it is the only structure built by Hundertwasser in the United States to date. The winery, from the production room to the tasting room, contains no straight lines (in terms of walls or any other structure), oddly rounded columns, and is almost something out of psychedelic Disney movie. The only right angles in the building are in the basement. Even the floors are intentionally uneven (not a safety hazard). The main winery boasts a gold leaf dome and has a living roof, complete with trees, plants, and grass. Covered in a plethora of colored tiles and mosaics, Quixote is nothing short of unique and took close to ten years to build. When you drive up the walnut tree-lined road leading to Quixote and Stags Leap, the road splits and, to the left, sits this modern marvel and demented, artistic structure. As crazy as it sounds, the winery itself is gorgeous.
The architecture was not the only thing that Hundertwasser designed. Fermentation tanks wrapped in art and barrel rims painted zainey colors, as well as the wineries labels, all bear a touch of Hundertwasser. The family-owned vineyard produces around 3,500 cases per year from 28-acres of Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Those two varieties are the only varieties grown on the estate. The tastings and tours are $25 and by appointment only, so plan on making a reservation ahead of time. The tour took us from the main lobby to the production room and back to the left side of the building. As we headed into the barrel room, we noticed red, yellow, blue, and other interesting colors painted on the rims of many of the barrels. The barrel room was loaded with hundreds of barrels, containing the aging, liquid art that is set to be bottled in the semi-near future.
The story of the architecture and sustainable techniques were discussed, as well as some background on the Estates consulting winemaker Aaron Pott. Pott began his career making wine for Napa-based Newton Vineyard before heading to France making wine in St. Emilion. While living in France, Pott earned his degree in viticulture at the Université de Bourgogne before heading back to the states and taking a job as Head Winemaker for Beringer Wine Estates. He then moved on to Quintessa Estate and eventually opened his own brand of wine, with his wife, under the Pott Wine label from their 76 acre estate in Mt. Veeder. Today, Pott makes wine for Quixote, as well as Stagecoach Vineyard, Blackbird Vineyards, Seven Stones Winery, Fisher Vineyards, Bello Family Vineyards, and Jericho Canyon Vineyard. Does the quality lack when taking on all of that consulting experience? Well, there are plenty of awards and mid to high 90 point rated wines that speak otherwise, especially from Quixote. Pott also works closely with vineyard manager Michael Wolf and winemaker Robert Smith to provide top quality wines at Quixote.
We concluded our tour by gathering around a table in the skillfully decorated tasting room that resembled what I would imagine a winery’s boardroom to look like. Cheese and crackers were served alongside our tasting glasses, and we were poured five wines for tasting. We begin with the Quixote Rose of Petite Sirah 2012 ($25) that is fermented with skin contact for 15 hours. This rose offers moderate aromatics and a medium red tint with moderate flavors of strawberry and red berries that are dried out with mineral character and a bone dry finish. We dove into the red offerings, beginning with the Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($90). A deep ruby color leads to some moderate aromas of baking spice, blackberry, fig, and undertones of cured meat. The palate is graced with fresh acidity, a medium- to full-bodied structure with plenty of depth, peeling back layers of rich cedar, black pepper notes, dried plum, and sweet tobacco, and finishing with integrated tannins and currants stepping forward. Up next was the Cabernet Sauvignon from 2001 ($100), which has held up well and displays some “drink now” qualities. Smoldering brush, cedar, and dark fruit jump from the glass while black fruit, cedar, and white pepper notes carry the palate. This wine has great balance and medium tannins that leave a tingly sensation, good depth, and dark fruit that carries on and on. Moving on to Quixotes most treasured wines, the Petite Sirah, or, as they label it, Petite Syrah. The Petite Syrah 2008 ($75) has a beautiful, deep purple color with concentrated aromas of toffee, coffee, cedar, and black fruit. Very full bodied with round, dusty tannins and flavors of rich plum, blueberry, blackberry, and espresso. The finish is dense, and the wine is overall plush, yet masculine – a true gem. We concluded our tasting with the Petite Syrah 2004 ($85). Another aromatic, big-bodied red that explodes with cedar, dry plum, dark berries, and tobacco notes. Complex and deep on the palate with dark chocolate, blackberry, and smooth baking spice finishing smooth and rich, yet firm, with dusty tannins and highlights of black cherry.
Overall, the experience was well worth the tasting fee, and the wines price point is worth every drop. Dont be turned off by the screw top caps as the belief behind the screw top at Quixote is for aging and protecting these wines from any flaws that could arise from the cork (a conversation piece for another article). This up and comer is still on the rise and will only get better with time.