Red Wine in Napa Valley
I'm going for a short trip to the Napa Valley in a couple of weeks and am hoping to get some recommendations for vineyards/wineries that are known for strong reds. I know that may not be specific enough for serious wine lovers, but I like most types of European reds and stay away from sweet wines. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
The entire Napa Valley made its reputation on strong reds so you would better asking about specific varietals; Cabernet? Zinfandel? It would be harder to get a recommendation for muted, soft reds in the valley and there is really only one producer of sweet wines of note (Praeger Portworks) in the valley so that will be easy to avoid.
Personally, I am a fan of mountain wineries and tend towards Pride and Smith Madrone on Spring Mountain and ANYTHING produced on Howell Mountain. Many prefer the classic "Rutherford Dust" or Stag's Leap District wines and establishments of note there include Stag's Leap, Chimney Rock, Regusci, or Clos du Val (Stag's Leap) or Staglin, Beaulieu, Grgich, or Mondavi (Rutherford/Oakville).
The amazing thing about Napa is there are well north of a 100 wineries producing good cabernet sauvignon (a varietal made famous by the French in Bordeaux. There tends to be more "fruit' in CA wines, but none of the good wineries would I characterize as sweet.) Some are more "savory" wines than others - depends on the winemaker. As a warning, there is a bit of sticker shock - tastings are $20 at many and bottles range regularly from $50 - $120. Many of these wineries (and all the mountain wineries) require reservations. If you have the patience/time to make appointments I would second Carrie's tip about Spring Mountain. In addition to Pride and Smith Madrone, Keenan was also very nice.
If you don't want to deal with reservations, the two areas I like to focus on (not exhaustive list by any means) are the Silverado Trail: Darioush, Chimney Rock, Cliff Lede, Pine Ridge, Paraduxx, Silver Oak. Or more St. Helena: Flora Springs, Heitz, Hall, Merryvale.