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The past few weeks were full of excitement and plenty of French and Napa wine! Please read on about our recent family outing in San Francisco, Alan’s trip to Bordeaux, and budbreak occurring out in the vineyard.
This weekend, the family traveled to San Francisco for the famous Burgundy tasting called, La Paulee. Amidst top Bay Area restaurant chefs, local industry, and wine enthusiasts, we got a sneak preview of the upcoming 2011 vintage releases from several top Burgundy producers. With a background chorus of the “Singers of Burgundy” shouting, “Je suis fiere d’etre Bourgignon!” Alan, Mariela, Delia, and I compared our notes on the standout Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, all while sneaking in delicious bites from local restaurants.
La Paulee is only held every other year in San Francisco, alternating with Manhattan. While undeniably fun, these tastings are also very educational — even though at VIADER we do not make Pinot or Chardonnay. As wine producers, it is important to consistently try all the benchmark wines from around the world. We look for the same balance in our own wines and strive to produce wines that capture the best possible expression of our unique vineyard site. This notion is paramount in Burgundy, a region that is extremely connected to the soil and vineyards through biodynamic farming.
Just two weeks ago, under the recommendation of our forever-Francophile mother Delia, my brother Alan took an amazing opportunity to travel to Bordeaux for two weeks to study with Delia’s old friend, Kees Van Leeuwen, professor of viticulture at the University of Bordeaux and consultant to St. Emilion’s famous First Growth winery, Chateau Cheval Blanc. Kees warned all the students that “We take lunch seriously,” and subsequently Alan “endured” 2.5 hours of lunch each day in between 8 total hours of lecture in the morning and afternoon. Oh la la!
After a week of informative vineyard seminars and wine tastings demonstrating Bordeaux’s terroir, Alan jumped in his diesel-engine Renault and ventured out on his own to many of the world famous Bordeaux chateaux and barrel-tasted numerous 2012 wines from some of the area’s best properties.
While Alan was away, our vines started to wake up from their winter slumber; indicating that the 2014 growing season has officially started! Budbreak is right on time, and we are looking forward to the new vintage. The tiny leaves are just beginning to push their way out into the world. Following a week of heavy rains this month, the ground is exploding with clovers and other nutritious cover-crops which help augment our mineral-rich and rocky soils.
We look forward to sharing more with you as the vintage progresses. Please visit our website to view current releases and special features. Thank you for your continued support of VIADER wines.
Yesterday, I was pulled away from my computer to join Delia and Alan for a quick barrel tasting of our blends from the 2012 vintage. We tasted through four different barrels of VIADER, two tastes each of “V” and Syrah, and finally we tried both the 2012 and 2013 vintages of our special single barrel blend of “Tribute” which is dedicated to my grandfather and Delia’s father, Walter Viader.
Wow. The wines from this vintage are so impressive. Rich fruit of the 2012 VIADER fills the mouth; the texture has an elegant roundness and fullness, with tasty caramel notes on the finish. Our 2012 “V” has the delicious bittersweet chocolate notes and brightness that we were hoping to extract from the grapes – and we did thankfully! The Syrah was fermented in the concrete egg “tank” and may be one of the best we’ve ever made. Coming around to the “Tribute,” we all took smaller samples because we only made one barrel (~25 cases), and this wine, painstakingly blended by Alan and Delia, embodies all that is Howell Mountain – red and black fruits supported by supple tannins and serious structure.
We’re looking forward to sharing these wines with you in a couple years! If you are interested in joining Alan for a barrel tasting, please view our 2014 Events Calendar. Alan will be giving a guided barrel tasting and cave tour on Friday, November 14th from 2-4pm. Space is extremely limited and an RSVP required. Cheers!
Pomegranate-Glazed Roast Duck with Heirloom Beet & Arugula Salad
1 (2 1/2-pound) whole duck neck removed
3/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 TBS soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup water
1 TBS Flour
1 Bay leaf
Special equipment: kitchen string; an instant-read thermometer
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 475°F. Wash and dry duck, then “groom” it by removing any remaining feathers and quills with tweezers or needle nose pliers. Tie legs together using string, then tuck wings under body to secure. Combine the pomegranate juice and soy sauce in a large sealable plastic bag and add duck. Marinate, chilled, 1 hour.
Transfer duck to a 13- by 9- by 3-inch roasting pan and reserve marinade. Stuff the garlic cloves in the cavity and season the cavity with salt. Roast 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pour marinade into a 1-quart saucepan and boil 1 minute and baste duck with marinade. Continue to roast duck until thermometer registers 155°F when inserted in meaty part of a thigh or 160°F in breast (do not touch bone), 15 to 20 minutes more.
While duck continues to roast, add 1 cup water to marinade in saucepan and bring to a boil. Put flour in a heatproof bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup marinade until smooth. Whisk flour mixture into remaining marinade in saucepan until combined well. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to coat back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Remove duck from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. (Duck will continue to cook, reaching 160°F at leg and 165°F at breast.) Serve duck with sauce.
Ingredients for Roasted Beets
2 bunches heirloom red beets
½ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
While you have the duck marinating, cut the ends of the beets, rinse them and arrange them in a roasting dish so they are in a single layer. Add the sherry vinegar and orange juice, salt and pepper and cover with foil. Roast at a 350°F oven for 25-30min.
Remove from oven and let cool. Once they are cool to the touch, peel with your fingers. The skin should come off easily.
Cut them in half, then in wedges. Transfer to a bowl and add the arugula, and toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Arrange in a platter and sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese.
Wild Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche
6 tablespoons butter
2 shallots thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
1 lbs assorted wild mushrooms sliced
5 sprigs thyme
2 cups whole milk
2 cups mushroom stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup gently whipped crème fraîche (optional)
In a medium pot over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoon of the butter and sauté the shallots and garlic for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme and sauté until mushrooms are tender. Add milk and stock and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Remove from heat and discard thyme. With a hand-held immersion blender, blend until smooth. Or using a stationary blender, blend in batches until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, season with salt and pepper and pour in desired shot glasses or a small espresso cup. Spoon a little crème fraîche on top if desired.
Yield; Makes 12 shot glasses as an appetizer
Recipes by Executive Chef Mariela Viader Mariela@Viader.com
For information on catering, please call us at (707) 963-3816 ext. 109
Alan Viader gives an overview of the exceptional harvest at VIADER in 2013.
In terms of start date, he reports that this year started earlier than last year by about 2 weeks.
The temperatures were warm leading up to harvest which accelerated maturity for some blocks. “About a week into harvest, temperatures dropped and we got a cool spell,” he says.
This gave him and his crew a chance to take a short break from picking. It also allowed him to spread out the harvest, making it a very calm and controlled year. The weather warmed up and stayed constant in the upper 80′s allowing for slow even ripening for the last part of harvest. Harvest took about five weeks from start to finish total.
The size of the Viader crew is 5-10 people depending on the size of block being picked. Incredible work was done by the crew, two of which are full time with Viader; Anastacio and Gabino. Anastacio drives the tractor and manages the picking crew during harvest. Gabino is his older brother in charge of quality control such as removing leaves and helping with picking boxes. You can see them in some of the harvest pictures in the gallery below (photos thanks to Luisa Bonachea.)
In terms of yields, Alan reports that they were lower than initially expected mostly due to a slightly dryer and warmer season. He only saw some mild amounts of dehydration but overall it was a decent yield, somewhat smaller than 2012 but far better than all of the vintages spanning from ’08-’11. This was great news for the winery.
During the harvest, some of the thoughts than ran through Alan’s head were about the high quality of the grapes this year. “Every block is performing and showing so much potential,” he said. His Cabernet Sauvignon was especially gratifying this year, with remarkable intensity in color with more density and weight to some of the blocks, as well.
Overall, Alan says he is “really happy with how things are progressing so far this harvest.” To celebrate the last day of harvest, the Viader’s treated their crew and staff to a pizza and micro-brew party, and of course a few bottles of Champagne to memorialize the celebratory 2013 harvest. Take a look at our photos and enjoy (photos thanks to Luisa Bonachea.). And remember, come visit us soon!
Exciting happenings at VIADER as we continue with our night harvesting schedule. Our 2013 harvest officially began two weeks ago on the evening of Monday, September 9th when we brought in a small block of our Syrah. Delia and I were just returning from dinner with some old friends on Spring Mountain. As we approached the winery, we could see in the distance what looked like fireflies in the vineyards under a thin crescent moon. Our harvest crew was wearing headlamps as they skillfully moved in between the vines, quickly picking only the best clusters into their small bins.We have several reasons for picking at night. Predominantly, colder temperatures help protect the fruit at harvest, slowing natural yeast and inhibiting any bacteria growth while preserving the fresh fruit flavors and acids in the grapes. Night temperatures on Howell Mountain and around Napa Valley can drop into the 50′s or 40′s even on summer days when we experience highs in the 90′s.
Within a couple hours of the nighttime harvest, the cold fruit is processed (destemmed and “crushed”) at the winery and then moves to the fermentation tanks where it is again cooled down to 40 degrees. This allows Alan, our second generation winemaker, to to do as long of a “cold soak” as possible and extract more color and distinct flavors from the cold skins. Read more about the cold soak philosophy in these article from Wines & Vines or Wine Spectator.
Secondly, both Delia and Alan have found that our harvest crew works easier in the cooler weather because they are more comfortable. We have less worry or issues with heat illness or dehydration when we avoid picking during the high temperatures that can plague a typical summer day on our fully exposed steep hillside.
Moreover, we discovered that night harvesting also allows us to be more efficient with the daytime schedule at the winery, since we can work on the wines in tank first thing in the morning. Alan Viader shares, “With night harvesting, the fruit comes in early morning (finishing at 3-4am typically) and then we arrive at 6am to crush the fruit before the sun peaks over the top of the mountain while its still cold. That then gives us all day to work the wines in tank.” He prefers this to having to wait for the fruit until late morning or afternoon and then working the wines in tank until late into the evening.Cheers to the 2013 vintage and to a Happy Harvest!
Even as harvest nears ever closer, winemakers Delia and Alan Viader are already booking their post-harvest calendars. At the close of November, the mother-son duo will be traveling to Zurich, Switzerland in order to attend a full vertical of VIADER’s flagship wine! Put together from the private cellar of our good family friend Eugen Haefliger, every bottled vintage of the VIADER Proprietary Red Blend from 1989 to 2010 will be showcased in magnums to an eager audience of European New World wine collectors and local wine writers for a “Cab & Turkey” “Thanksgiving” dinner at Restaurant Braui Hochdorf.
Delia’s first bottled wine was in 1989, three years after literally “breaking ground” on her Howell Mountain estate and planting the first lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The shallow soils and the terrain were so rocky and the volcanic bedrock so dense that the vineyard developers initially had to use dynamite to break apart the soil enough to start the vine planting process. The result was our “dynamite vineyard” with vines positioned in rows scaling down the hillside in a European design, maximizing the afternoon sun exposure and the natural drainage provided by the rocky soils. Since the 1990′s, our wines have been well received and imported into Switzerland.