It’s not every day that Famous executive chef Brian Sack gets to experiment outside of the standard menu. So when the restaurant’s quarterly wine dinners come around, it’s worth a visit to check out what’s happening in the kitchen. We recently sat down at the invitation of the Famous to sup and sip on Jax Vineyards.
“We started in 1990 growing Cabernet in Calistoga and the whole idea was to sell grapes to our neighbors,” said a Jax Vineyards representative whose name we missed. “We had some contracts with some of the bigger wineries, so for about six years we sold all of our grapes. And then Dave Jackson, which is the vineyard owner, his son wanted to make a little bit of wine for friends and family, so they made 50 cases. …
“And then his daughter became involved three or four years later, and she started taking the wine to restaurants and retailers and hand-selling it to them. So it’s kind of the quintessential Napa Valley story. You’ve probably heard it a million times, like, small family winery. We’re still true to that to this day. We haven’t sold to the bigger company or mass-produced anything. Everything we do is family owned and harvested and sustainable.”
All wines impressed with their flavor and price accessibility — bottles costing between $15 and $25 at places like Coaltrain Wine & Spirits — but our favorites were the 2013 Y3 Chardonnay, which lacked the heavily oaked trademark of the style and instead kicked grass and clean; and the 2013 Taureau Red Blend, a lively liquid tasting like blackberries and cherries, which is 45 percent Merlot, 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Syrah and 10 percent Zinfandel.
There’s a possibility the dinner could be repeated early next year, so keep an eye out for that.
[Images: Bryce Crawford and Edie Crawford]