PREMIUM

Coup de Foudre – striking Napa wines

This Calistoga-based winery’s name translates in French as a bolt from the blue – when lightning, or Cupid’s arrow, strikes. Stacy Slinkard finds out the inspiration for it and tastes through the wines

The enigmatic meaning behind the Coup de Foudre label finds inspiration from proprietor John Schwartz’s early encounter with his eventual wife, Carrie, while studying in France.

In fact, many of the wines’ elaborate labels showcase excerpts of Schwartz’s love letters (written in French, of course) penned during their courtship, and have the added bonus of a peel-back label attachment that allows consumers to remove the commemorative label and write in for themselves the where, when and why keepsake details of their bottle’s personal story and with whom it was shared.

With the very first vintage in 2004, the initial release of Coup de Foudre was a few hundred cases. Today production remains boutique at 2,500 cases, with 10 wines under the classic Coup de Foudre label: two distinct Cabernet Sauvignons, three Bordeaux-inspired blends, a gutsy Petit Sirah-based field blend, a varietal Pinot Noir, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc, and an elegant sparkling wine.

‘Balance and site expression is our motto,’ says winemaker Kent Jarman.

Most of the fruit is estate grown and sourced from Napa Valley’s Calistoga AVA except for the Pinot Noir, which hails from the Sonoma Coast. Jarman’s more recent sparkling wine venture is the vintage Coup de Folie Champagne, from Epernay, France.

‘We make wines that are approachable now but have the bones and density to age gracefully over time,’ explains Schwartz, who owns several prestigious Napa-based wine projects including Amuse Bouche and Au Sommet, both joint ventures with long-time friend the notable wine consultant Heidi Barrett.

Tasting Coup de Foudre