Sometimes the best wine discoveries happen when you least expect them. That was certainly my experience the other day when I visited the fine wine merchants at a shop in Chino, CA ominously called Napacabs.com. What could an Italian Wine Geek expect from a place with a name like that? Thankfully, as I was about to find out, these people are about a lot more than Napa.
The name “Napa Cabs” comes from a study of the most-searched-for wine terms- when attempting to name this wine shop and its online retail presence, the owners snapped up this popular search term in order to drive wine lovers to their website and store. Genius.
Within 5 minutes of entering NapaCabs I felt right at home. Not even 10am and we were already sipping Pastis and discussing indigenous Italian wine varietals. I asked Christophe, NapaCab’s resident charming Frenchman, about his current favorite off-the-beaten-path wine, and he surprised me. Chasselas. In other words, Swiss wine.
In Valais, on the Swiss-Italian border where this Gilliard 2009 Fendant Les Murettes Chasselas is produced, the typical Swiss white grape Chasselas is also known as Fendant. We opened the bottle and were met with aromatics full of white flowers, earthy petrol and a touch of citrus rind. On the palate the wine has an interesting weight- almost like a young Riesling, and a bright, fruity acidity that makes it a perfect wine to pair with cheeses. All this talk about Switzerland was clouding my mind with visions of gooey fondue and creamy Fontina.
Napacabs also has a wine bar, and plenty of fun tasting events. You’ll notice a large glass jar on the bar, labelled with the words, “Cici n’est pas une chrachoir”. Christophe smiled when I asked him about it, and translated it for me, “This is not a spittoon”.
Leave it to a handsome Frenchman in the middle of Chino to make an adorable reference to René Magritte while he plies you with Pastis and Swiss wine, all before 10am.
Some days, I just love my job.