DRINK – Wine tasting in the Crystal Cellar

This may be the winery tasting room opening of the year.  Raymond Vineyards, in Napa Valley, has partnered with the legendary French crystal maker Baccarat, to create a one-of-a-kind tasting room, the Crystal Cellar.

It’s pretty awesome.  Granted, I was at the soiree to celebrate opening the Crystal Cellar. The atmosphere was like a sophisticated night club. Mirrors everywhere – on the tasting bar and display cases.  A stunning crystal chandelier, the focal point of the cellar. A mannequin hanging from a trapeze.  Lots of colorful mood lighting.  Display cases with Baccarat wine decanters, glasses, and other decorative objects.

I have seen the cellar during the daytime, when it’s much more subdued, but equally brilliant.

The pairing of a winery and crystal manufacturer is nothing new, but this is the first collaboration for Baccarat with a winery.  The inspiration comes from Jean-Charles Boisset, who is head of Boisset Family Estates.  Boisset bought the Raymond winery  in August 2009, setting its sights on improving the wine quality and developing a unique wine tasting experience.  This is Boisset’s first Napa Valley aquisition.  They also own DeLoach Vineyards in Sonoma County, and recently opened Taste of Terroir, a wine tasting room on the square in Healdsburg.

Jean-Charles told me he starting collecting Baccarat at the tender age of 11.  You can imagine he’s got a large collection now.  He approached Baccarat about a partnership with Raymond.  Makes, perfect sense, both Boisset and Baccarat are rooted in France, and Baccarat creates beautiful decanters and glassware.

I can’t wait to take friends wine tasting in the Crystal Cellar.  You don’t need to make a reservation, but there is a $25 tasting fee.  What they’re pouring:  the Raymond Vineyards District Cabernet Sauvignon series, including the 2006 Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena wines, the ’06 Generations, a 2009 barrel sample of a barrel fermented Chardonnay, and a 1987 Napa Valley Cab. This last wine was poured at the opening event, and I found it to still have fruit and a floral nose, and soft tannins.

If you get to Paris, you should plan to go to the Baccarat museum.  The crystal collection is amazing.  The galleries and restaurant were designed by Philippe Stark (reason enough to go).  The display cases are filled with both vintage and modern works.

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