Sunday, November 29, 2009


One of the wineries participating in the aforementioned Christmas Tree Wine Trail promotion is Regale (rhymes with prevail). This is a major new development on Summit Road, next door to Burrell School. It's been under construction for about 3 years; this summer it opened to guests by appointment only and is now open to the public at weekends.

Regale is the dream of real estate developer Larry Schaadt. Assisted by his brother Greg he made a couple of trial vintages in Carmel Valley before deciding to go commercial. He purchased a little over 10 acres on Summit Road and planted a 4.5 acre vineyard with Pinot Noir plus a small amount of Chardonnay. The winery was designed in the style of a tuscan villa and the grounds are landscaped with herb gardens, olive groves and lemon trees. No expense has been spared; from the marble floors to the roof which is covered in century old hand made clay tiles, recovered from abandoned villages in the Amazon.

The tasting area is outdoors, under a balcony, and features a seating area and a wood fired pizza oven. While we were tasting, the staff brought out a continual stream of delicious complimentary pizzas, made by hand from scratch with paper-thin crusts. There was also rustic bread to go with the winery's own olive oil. The tasting area faces west, so as the sun goes down it gets very bright for the servers, but the sunset was beautiful.

The winery has a wide range of wines with fruit sourced from various different AVAs. Two flights are offered, five wines for $10 and six for $15, with the first two wines common to both flights. Total production is under 4,000 cases.

2005 Chardonnay, Central Coast
Sourced from the 122 acre San Felipe Vineyard in the Pacheco Pass AVA. A typical 'oak and butter' style Chardonnay with a creamy mouthfeel and a mineral finish. 86 $35

2007 Pinot Noir, O'Neel Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Starts with a lovely perfumed, cherry nose. On the palate it's dry with tart cherry flavours and a hint of pine. The finish is rather quick without a great deal of tannin or oak evident. 87 $55

2007 Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains
The first vintage from 3 year old vines. Only 45 cases made. Has a darker colour than the RRV. Intriguing nose of candied fruit and raspberry, with a hint of menthol. Full bodied with good bramble and black cherry flavours. Surprisingly intense from such young vines. 92 $65 (Club members only)

2007 Sangiovese, Napa Valley
From a private vineyard in the Stag's Leap District. Bright fruity nose with white pepper and black olive notes. Smooth with, redcurrant and blood orange flavours. 89 $42

2006 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley
Has a great raspberry and cigar box nose. Elegant & balanced, with berry and herb flavours, but the finish is a little quick. 90 $45

2006 Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley
Also from the Stags Leap District, the nose shows nice blackberry and tobacco that follow through to the palate, with some herbal notes. Good balance. 91 $48

2007 Barbera, El Dorado County
Big, bramble jelly nose. Fruity and smooth, with some white pepper and liquorice on the finish. Nice acidity, light tannins. 89 $40

2005 Ovation, Carmel Valley
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Nose has smoke, graphite and blackcurrants. Elegant, balanced and smooth with hints of violets. Reminds me of Ridge. 93 $75

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
Bright blackcurrant nose, with a touch of green pepper. Lots of currant fruit, plenty of oak, dry tannic finish. Still very young. 91+ $N/A

With the Real Estate market timing and location are critical; the same may be true of wineries. While Regale has an excellent location it has certainly picked a difficult time to launch - the market for high-priced wines has been hit hard in the recession, as a recent report in Decanter confirms. While Regale is certainly worth a visit it will be interesting to see whether the region can support a Napa style winery with Napa style prices.