When Wine Access Comes Before A Michelin-Star Staple
When your wine is in demand at one of Napa Valley’s Michelin-starred restaurants, it means you’re doing something right — and that everyone else who wants some is probably out of luck. That’s the story of the 2015 Picayune Padlock Proprietary Red Blend, whose demand soared after the previous vintage was featured as a glass pour at The French Laundry. This overachieving Bordeaux-style blend from the “spectacular” 2015 vintage was crafted by Jennifer Roberts and her partner, French-born Claire Weinkauf, whose resume includes stints with Paul Hobbs and Mathiasson. Picayune’s open secret is that these professionals’ expertise is doubled by their spouses: Roberts is married to Nathan Roberts of Arnot-Roberts and Weinkauf’s husband is Spottswoode winemaker Aron Weinkauf. Its real secret is that “Padlock” refers to the hush-hush Napa sources of the first-rate Picayune fruit. It all adds up to stellar provenance, a strong Napa pedigree, and in 2015, Wine Access got the call first — ahead of some big names. In extremely limited supply, do not hesitate.
The First Commandment of running a wine program is this: Thou shalt not run out of any by-the-glass wines. This is why, when 3-Michelin-starred The French Laundry in Napa laid claim to the previous vintage of Picayune Padlock Proprietary Red Blend, the remainder of the 85-case production of Padlock disappeared from the radar.
Fortunately, the grip of Thomas Keller’s culinary temple loosened a bit, and our longstanding friendship with Jennifer and Claire did the rest when we offered those last cases to our clients. When the 2015 Padlock was set to be released, it was Wine Access that got the call, ahead of the sommelier at The French Laundry, and the fourth consecutive drought year, in which Robert Parker declared it “another great vintage,” that was “spectacular,” and praised the “high-quality” despite a smaller crop, it shows in the quality that Roberts, Weinkauf, et al. were able to achieve for such a modest price. The deep Napa gem boasts blackcurrant and graphite, and is perfect for a night cooking at home: We recommend charcoal-grilled Japanese Wagyu with some roasted cèpes. Paired with Padlock, and you’ll think you paid Michelin-star prices.