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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!
This is an important and extremely aromatic time for us in caves. The wines have long since finished primary fermentation and we then keep several lots in tank for an extended maceration period. We then move the wine from tank to barrel and use a basket press at the very end to extract all the wine from the grape must. The grape must (pomace) that is leftover in the basket press is then take to be composted and later reapplied on the soils of our vineyard. It’s full circle and it’s part of what makes our wines excel year after year.
This is just a quick update on the progress in the cellar as our winemaker Alan keeps busy after the harvest. We hope you had a chance to see our recent blog posts this season on how the 2013 harvest went and also on a few fabulous recipes and wine pairings. We look forward to seeing you soon and hope you’re stocking up on Viader wines for the upcoming holiday season.
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.