One of the ancillary benefits of being hosted at Auction Napa Valley are the winery-sponsored dinners that take place during the evenings preceding the big auction event.The food is usually fantastic, the wine is flowing (often a bit too) freely, and it’s hard to beat the locations.
For example, when I attended a few weeks ago, I joined bidders on one evening at Ma(i)sonry in Yountville for dinner and wines provided by Ma(i)sonry and Blackbird Vineyards owner Michael Polenske (where I finally met Blackbird’s winemaker Aaron Pott, whose humorous personality matches exactly what’s been described in the media published about him over the last few years).
The dinners aren’t exactly my scene – the people, food, and beverages are all top-notch, don’t get me wrong, but I’m nowhere near fitting the ascot-wearing-rich-white-guy mold, and while most of the guests are affable, welcoming, and only fit that mold peripherally, I still feel mostly out of place at those things.
So when I showed up for the second dinner on my itinerary, at Nickel & Nickel in Rutherford, I expected to feel the odd-man-out (which I did) but to be welcomed warmly (which I was, by proprietress Beth Nickel), and to be served over-the-top steakhouse food, probably in the cellar (which we were).
What I didn’t expect, though, was to get a sort of masterclass in Napa Valley Cabernet terroir.
Which I did…