Meritage Resort Wine Cave Dinner …

“You got to be in shape if you’re going to be a food and wine writer.”

A squawk of laughter from Napa’s Meritage Resort’s Marketing Director Andrew Bradley, catching my humor and irony, as I climbed the final steps to the reception  for their Paul Hobbs Winery dinner.  And unlike a lot of my contemporaries, I wasn’t having a heart attack, which Andrew appreciated.

It was a bit of a climb over the cave where the Paul Hobson dinner was going to take place, but it was nice to chat with Andrew as he showed me how the Meritage expansion was seamlessly grooving into the Napa hills and vineyards and should be completed by mid-2018 at the latest.

If there’s a nicer view at the top of the Meritage at the south end of Napa, I’ve yet to find it. I managed to cadge a few minutes with Paul Hobbs’ Winemaker Greg Urmini, where he detailed the sheer craziness of keeping up with all of Hobbs’ vineyards scattered throughout Napa and Sonoma.

While atop the Meritage reception area, we sipped two of Hobbs’ second labels,  Crossbarn’s 2016 Chardonnay and  Crossbarn’s 2014 Cab Franc, which went nicely with an appetizer of foie gras mousse and an amuse bouche of brioche, caviar and quail egg.

After an hour of wine, appetizers, sunshine and mingling it was time to descend to Meritage’s wine cave.  First course was an asparagus creme glacee that was paired with Paul Hobbs’ 2015 Chardonnay from their Ellen Lane Estate in the Russian River Valley.  As Miles said from Sideways, “with just a hint of asparagus.” No seriously, there was more than hint of asparagus and it paired well with the chard.

Second course was a Wagyu flat iron steak paired with Paul Hobbs 2015 Pinot Noir from their Hyde Vineyard Carneros in Napa Valley.  Third course was a chilled bouillabaisse mosaic with lemon grass that paired with Paul Hobbs 2014 Pinot Noir from their Katherine Lindsay Estate in the Russian River Valley.

My favorite course was the fourth, a coffee crusted venison loin and chop, paired with Paul Hobbs 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. And finally, dessert was Foret Noir, a black forest dark chocolate, cherry, cardamom air cake with cherry gel, paired with Paul Hobbs 2015 Pinot Noir again from their Hyde Vineyard in Napa.

While I enjoyed all the food and wine, what really knocked my socks off were those tasty Pinots.  Robert Parker has given them high scores if that matters to you, but I can unreservedly recommend them.   And I can also unreservedly recommend the Meritage Wine Cave experience. Excellent service and atmosphere. Next winemaker dinner is Sat. Aug 26th, a collaboration between Schramsberg Estate and Davies Vineyards.  Check it out at