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The Lovely Emma. One of Ireland's Best.

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She recommends anything with potatoes.

Visit The Hanover and meet the rest of the devastatingly attractive staff.

90 Hanover Street, Edinburgh 031 225 2227


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LUNCH 12—2.30pm EVENINGS 6—11pm (last orders 10.30pm)

EDINBURGH 226 5145 50, east tountalnbrldge

EDINBURGH 228 4003

If. when you last picked a bottle of Californian white from the shelves, you thought it was simply a safe bet to go with chicken, may I correct you? Your £3.50’s worth is no less than ‘a very wonderful part ofyour gracious way of living’. Or at least that’s the way the chic tour guide at the Robert Mondavi winery, Napa Valley, tells it. and Americans increasingly seem to believe her. Whereas in the 505 and early-60s annual wine consumption was not much more than a pint per capita, now the nation is knocking back 400 million gallons, much ofit Californian. And Napa. the 29-mile long, 4-mile wide heart ofwine country, is bountiful host to two million visitors a year. As many mouths will gurgle free samples in an

theme restaurants, wine and gift

their stems without crushing them

stainless steel,temperature-

October weekend here as will gawp at Mickey Mouse in Disney World down-state. Perhaps harvest time is called The Crush for more reasons than one.

The valley offers scores of winery VlSltOl‘ centres. wme museums.

shops and picnic areas. You can sip champagne on the landscaped terraces of Mumms Napa Outpost. ride in a cable car up to the space-age Sterling vineyard in the Mayacamas mountains or eat lunch in a vintage wine train that will carry you from one end of the valley to the other on this trip you can even get your very own group photo to take home. The Mondavi Winery not only offers free guided tours and tastings, but holds concerts. art exhibitions and cookery masterclasses. It has an imposing white-washed, neo- Mediterranean edifice complete with bell tower and arched portal

The Mondavi Winery not only offers tree guided tours and tastings, but holds concerts, art exhibitions and cookery masterclasses.

that opens onto manicured lawns dotted with contemporary sculptures and terracotta pots ofwell-behaved geraniums. On arrival, you are led through spotless courtyards and given a comprehensive rundown. An area the fifth the size of Bordeaux, Napa boasts 290 wineries and 42 grape varieties, over four times as many as are grown in any single European region. This is made possible by the plethora of microclimates, each one blessed with hot sunny days and cool nights. the perfect combination for fruit and acidity balance.

We watch gleaming chrome juggernauts tipping tons of prime Cabernet Sauvignon grapes into the jaws ofa huge thresher. It miraculously separates them from

and then pumps them into vast

controlled fermentation tanks. The air may be filled with a heady fragrance of ripe fruit. but there IS nothing bucolic about this set-up. Forget the Ernst and Gallo ads where the paysans slumber secure in nature‘s spontaneity here even the vines are subject to rigorous discipline. Their tight, dark bunches hanging in obedient lines are constantly monitored to be gathered in a flash when the lab reports give the go-ahead.

Inside the winery, ‘the relentless persuit ofexcellence‘ continues, the precise number of days before the skins and seeds are removed having been calculated for each grape variety. Our tour guide leads us through rows ofsweet-smelling oak barrels in which the fermented wine is aged. When the chiefwine-maker sees fit he appears on cue. somewhat incongruous in Reeboks

76 The List 8 21 November 1991