How to get in the spirit of Halloween? With spirits of course!
Here at Wine Predator, we’re keen on wine — that’s our chosen spirit.
And what better spirit for Halloween than one made at a ghost winery like Napa Valley’s Flora Springs that seriously gets into the spirit of this special occasion (and others as well?)
Because of the twin evils of the insect phylloxera and the anti-alcohol Prohibition followed by the economy of the Depression and the woes of World War II, the thriving wine industry in California collapsed, and most wineries shut down — and stayed shut down. It took many years for these wineries to recover — they were ghosts of wineries, the empty buildings mere shells of the life they once held.
Krug — which we wrote about last month– was one of those wineries that recovered relatively early from its status as a “ghost winery.” In fact, Napa Valley has several wineries that are considered ghost wineries (read about them here). Here in Ventura County we have ghost wineries as well.
Some wineries play up their “ghost” winery claim to fame — like Flora Springs which celebrates by producing one or more special bottlings.
All of Flora Springs wines come from their sustainable and generally organic estate:
“By using sustainable and organic farming methods we naturally force ourselves to care for our vineyards with a focused and ever-watchful eye. The result, if we do our job correctly, is that our vineyards become stronger, and better able to grow better, more concentrated grapes.” FLORA SPRINGS
After retiring as President of Bechtel, Jerry Komes moved to Napa in 1977 planning to be a “gentleman farmer” growing wine grapes in Napa Valley. When wife Flora fell in love with a ghost winery, they resurrected it. Next their son and daughter in law John and Julie Komes decided to make wine from the vines along with their daughter Julie and her husband Pat Garvey. Today the Komes and the Garvey families along with the next generation, Nat Komes and Sean Garvey run the business under the watchful eye of winemaker Paul Steinhauer who also grew up in Napa in the wine industry. Read more about the family here.
All three wines were samples for my review consideration, all opinions are my own, and I was not paid for my comments or opinions.
- 2017 – Flora Springs – Sauvignon Blanc – $27
- 2017 – Flora Springs – Family Select Chardonay – $36
- 2017 – Flora Springs – “All Hallows Eve” Cabernet Franc – 14.2% alcohol – $55
- Chèvre purchased in California at Vons
- Goat cheese purchased in Loire
- Brie purchased in Loire
- Pate purchased in Trader Joe’s
- Rosemary Almonds
- Oil cured and herbed olives purchased in France
- Cured meat brought back from France
Pumpkin Pasta with cream sauce, winter squash, mushrooms, and Italian sausage crumbles
Green salad with tomatoes, seeds, parmesan cheese, olive oil and balsamic
2017 – Flora Springs – Sauvignon Blanc – $27
Color: Pale yellow, platinum with a greenish tinge
Nose: Gooseberries, grass, seafood,
Palate: Not as acidic as Sauvignon Blanc can be. Nice and smooth, roundness across the palate. There is a nice quality to the wine. It is nicely made and crafted. It is easy to drink.
Pairing: Great with calamari and Cesar salad. We just wanted to go straight for the goat cheese. The fresh goat cheese was nice, but this cheese we brought back from France, a pasture grazed goat milk cheese that was aged was insane. Was not great with creamy brie or camembert. It did go well with the gruyere. Great with fresh greens drizzled with olive oil and a balsamic reduction. We did not think we would like this wine with our creamy pasta, but it was so fun. The baking spices bring out a fun apple brightness to the wine. There is no bitterness or fighting between the wine and the food. It was a totally harmonious pairing.
2017 – Flora Springs – Family Select Chardonnay – $36
Color: Light buttercup, very pretty color
Nose: We used a stemless oaked Chardonnay glass for this tasting and I was pleased that it brought out less of the oak and more fruit including golden delicious apple, ripe pear, tropical fruits like pineapple.
Palate: Vanilla, buttered toast, the wine coats the mouth and yearns for food. We felt this was not our idea of a cocktail wine.
Pairing: Right off the bat we imagined shrimp scampi, or lobster dipped in butter. Rich roast chicken with root vegetables would also work well. Maybe even a baked potato with tons of butter. The Camembert and the rich creamy brie was fabulous with the wine. The pate was alright as well. We thought the pasta and this wine would be a fantastic pair, but it didn’t work out as planned. It liked the rich butter elements of the meal, the mushroom and the sage, but it did not like the spices in the sauce. The pumpkin spice did not marry well with this wine, it wants more savory elements. Leave the squash out and just do a mushroom pasta with Italian sausage with this wine. We fried up a bit of Italian sausage to test our theory. We tossed it atop of our pasta as a garnish, and it became a game changer. This wine wanted a bit more fatty richness and salt fat to satisfy this wine.
2017 – Flora Springs – Cabernet Franc – 14.2% alcohol – $55 “All Hallows Eve wine”
Flora Springs General Manager Nat Komes seeks to create a one-of-a-kind Halloween wine label for the estate-grown Napa Valley Cabernet Franc release for his favorite holiday.
Color: Deep rich and dark, maroon, like Dracula’s blood, with a magenta rim.
Nose: Rich red fruit, very ripe raspberry, eucptlyptus, mint, menthol.
Palate: Plum, cherry, chocolate covered fresh cherries, on the front of the palate, at the back of the palate it is all about the herbs and minerals. This is a very big bold wine.
This is your Elvira voluptuous witch compared to your boney witch.
Pairing: Memorable with a mild pate, gruyere cheese tones down the wine, terrible with goat cheese, it needs big bold cheese flavors. So very good with an aged gouda. We brought back a smoked cured meat sausage from France that went so fabulously with the wine. This would be a great BBQ wine. Smoked brisket or smoked ribs would work with this wine. The fruit combats the smoke so well. With our creamy squash, mushroom pasta, the wine is elegant, taking on beautiful fruit.
Halloween sweets are much too sweet for these wines. They are dinner wines. For dessert serve a nice Tawny Port.