Taste at Oxbow
You know a good idea when you see one and Taste at Oxbow is a place you need to check out. The light-filled, contemporary space is on downtown Napa’s east side, planted on a corner in the bustling river district at 708 First and McKinstry and the interior is so visually appealing you may not know where to look first. Designed with “green” in mind, “Taste” will spark your imagination as you sip the wines of Mahoney Vineyards and Waterstone, two outstanding wineries that combined efforts to offer variety and style to wine lovers. The mood is friendly and fun with education as a bonus and your comfort is just plain understood. Plan to stay a while.
Cushy sofas and plump chairs are grouped for conversation and tables with high stools are positioned for the best view of passersby through the walls of windows on two sides. Energy efficient lamps in mottled orange glass drop from the ceiling, casting a smooth glow on the patterned floor and over the marvelous tasting counter, made with concrete and embedded with thousands of chips of recycled glass in shades of the ocean and nearby hills. The colors dance, reflecting off your glass as you swirl your wine.
Featured on walls painted in vegetable hues, is the work of regional artist, Stephen Bruce. Stephen’s patinated copper panels are stunning, etched with man-made and natural acids to create abstract effects and pattern variations with touchable textures that seem to advance and recede. On one panel he used hot sauce as his etching medium; on another, pineapple juice, turning the copper golden, alive with vertical movement. Stephen’s work has an industrial feel while simultaneously invoking nature and the selection of his art for sale at Taste at Oxbow was another good idea.
Two wineries under one elegant roof means choices and something for every palate. Taste any four wines from either the Mahoney menu or the Waterstone menu for $10 or order by the glass. If you’re a Cab lover, don’t miss Waterstone 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Over-the-top delicious, this hillside Cab from winemaker Philip Zorn is luxury in a glass with flavors of cedary oak, cherries, plums, chocolate and tobacco with firm tannins that lead to a long, dreamy finish. There’s also a beauty of a Syrah that seems to be the talk of the counter and a bright Chardonnay from Carneros that will make your mouth happy.
If you know a little Mahoney Vineyards history you’ll be pleased to find three selections of Pinot Noir on the menu. Known for thirty-five years of clonal trials with this varietal, Frances Mahoney is a Pinot king in the Carneros region and winemaker Ken Foster is a veteran with this wine, focusing on small-lot production and emphasizing gentle handling of the fruit. Try all three and see if you can pick a favorite. It will be difficult as each is distinct in terroir characteristics, expressive and lush.
Taste at Oxbow offers a complete downtown Napa experience with gourmet foods, boutique retail items with emphasis on natural products, and it’s a place where you can begin your valley visit at noon when the doors open or enjoy your evening since Taste pours until 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There’s a V.I.P alcove behind bamboo-threaded glass panels for group tastings so call ahead to (707) 265-9600 to reserve the space or visit the web at www.tasteatoxbow.com for more information about a truly good idea.