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  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.

About The Author

I love all things Italian: the beautiful country of Italia, the Italians themselves, the language, the food… and above all, I love Italian wine. The people I meet in my charmed life are fascinating, the wines are extraordinary. I needed a special place like this to write about them, and to remember them.

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7 Responses

  1. Dorje

    Interesting – as a Swiss resident of 4 years who’s more focused on the wines of the 4 neiboring countries, I’ll have to track down this Murettes. Thx for the tip!

      • Dorje

        HI, no I’m a Brit living in Switzerland by the French/German border (and about to move to France), so I’ll try to track Murettes down locally. Just had a fabulous Swiss pinot noir today, the 2009 ‘Monolith’ from the producer Obrecht in the Graubunden canton to the east of Valais. Info at, albeit in German. Highly recommended!

      • Dorje

        Just noticed that Murettes is produced in the Sion area – very close to the wonderful resort of Verbier – will try to visit next time I head down to ski/snowboard there 🙂

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