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B Cellars

Author: Julie Fadda Powers
October, 2015 Issue

B Cellars
703 Oakville Cross Rd.
Oakville, CA 94562
(877) 229-9939
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fees: $35-$125
Wines offered: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Blend 23 (white blend), Blend 24 (Super Tuscan-style red blend); Blend 25 (Cabernet, Syrah); wine selections vary widely and depend on chosen tasting experience
Reservations: Yes
Picnics: No
Pets: OK on patio
 
Did You Know?
The name B Cellars and the degree symbol depicted on its logo comes from “brix,” a metric that indicates the sugar level in grapes and provides direction for alcohol content in the finished wine. 
 
 
B Cellars is all about pairing food and wine. Founded in 2003 by Jim Borsack and Duffy Keys, who met by chance at a barbecue and discovered they held a similar vision, it’s a food-centric winery that combines both Old and New World winemaking techniques (by the hand of winemaker Kirk Venge) with wines made from carefully selected vineyards throughout Napa and Sonoma counties.
 
In the beginning, the wines were custom crushed and, in 2009, the operation moved to a tasting room and winery location in Calistoga. Originally, most of the production was focused on blended wines, with the reserve level of wines featuring Andy Beckstoffer’s heritage vineyards for single-vineyard Cabernet. Recently, B Cellars began to focus on single-varietal wines with a focus on appellations. The company partnered with Beckstoffer in 2004 and now produces wines from all six of his heritage vineyards.
 
In 2012, the winery started to build its own facility at Vintage Oaks ranch in Oakville and created a hospitality-focused experience featuring an open kitchen at the center of its tasting area, expansive outdoor seating and a culinary garden. The 11-acre property will have five planted acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (some are in the ground already), with its first estate bottling expected to be released in 2020.
 
The winemaking philosophy is to create wines with layers of flavor, balance of fruit, tannins and acidity. Venge uses stainless, concrete, open-top, new oak and t-bin fermenters. Grapes aren’t crushed prior to fermentation in an effort to control tannins.
 
When you reserve a visit, you have a choice of several tasting adventures. “Sojourn” is a seated experience where Chef Brian Green pairs wines from the flagship portfolio and limited single vineyard-designates with local cheeses. “Oakville Trek” includes a tour of the culinary garden, crush pad, production facility and wine caves, followed by a seated wine and food pairing of “B Bites” in the hospitality house.
 
“Beyond the Glass” is a private experience of limited production wines made from hallmark vineyards, with some history, cheese and charcuterie included. The “Private Heritage Excursion” is for serious collectors and connoisseurs of reserve level Cabernet Sauvignons and takes place in the Beckstoffer Heritage room in the wine cave with cheese, charcuterie and other paired bites. The “Chef’s Garden Pairing” is a custom, seasonal and elevated wine and food experience at an outdoor garden table or in a private room.
 
When NorthBay biz visited, we experienced Oakville Trek, which began with the 2012 Blend 23 (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier; floral/citrus characteristics), paired with Missouri cherry wood-smoked California trout with summer garden relish, basil pesto, California olive oil, citrus zest and borage blooms. The olive oil and pesto really rounded out the wine’s characteristics and brought everything together beautifully.
 
Next up was 2012 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay (citrus, rounded mouthfeel, long finish) with rosemary crackers, Humboldt Fog cheese, estate lavender honey, wild flowers and black summer truffle. The wine’s lighter characteristics became more pronounced after a bite of the sweet/salty/earthy food combination.
 
The third course was 2010 Blend 24 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah; meaty, peppery nose and dark fruit with lots of character) that paired extremely well with local glazed lamb kabob, garden strawberries, cherries, grilled pattypan squash and cilantro chimichurri—this one went down very easily.
 
Fourth was 2011 Caldwell Syrah (Combsville; lush cocoa and dark fruit nose with a hint of pepper and smoke) with duck egg ravioli with smoked ham, grilled peaches, grilled tat soi, maple bacon breadcrumbs, grilled estate corn and basil. The rich combination went perfectly with the wine’s flavor profile, leaving that hint of pepper lingering on the palate.
 
Last was 2011 Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon (spicy and sassy, with anise on the nose and smoke around the edges) with grilled hangar steak, Missouri chanterelles, charred summer pumpkins, grilled zucchini, roasted red pepper and beef jus. The dish was as sassy as the wine—no wonder they got along so well.
 
For each pairing, Green tastes the wines and chooses seasonal garden items to pair with them He then creates ideas and a panel of four tastes each dish and decides what best showcases the wine. The menu changes every two weeks to ensure everything is as fresh and exciting as possible.
 
Wine and food enthusiasts who just can’t get enough can join the B Society (there are four different levels to suit all types of palates) and enjoy first releases and preferred access to special events and tastings at the estate.

 

 

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