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napa valley cabernet
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.
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.
It’s another exciting week in the vineyard, as we move closer to harvest. We continue our legacy of organic farming, which involves many sustainable practices that help our fruit flourish. One specific vineyard practice includes a unique effort to naturally control any predatory pests in order to maintain a balanced ecological system on the property, which Alan takes great pride in. In this light, he incorporates some amazing strategies, one of which occurred this week: the release of these tiny wasps that control pests by “flying around and laying their eggs into the belly of the host,” says Alan.
These very tiny wasps target the small pest known as vine mealybug to safely and naturally prevent this pest from causing detriment to the vines.
Close to 10,000 of these little beneficiary wasps are released per season. The adult wasps generally live about 2-3 days flying around laying hundreds of eggs in their lifetime. They arrive in small vials and are dispersed by our crew in the vineyard. How do they find their prey? “They fly around and are attracted to the pheromones from the females,” Alan says.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach: IPM is a pest management strategy useful for any farming system especially for organic growers.
It’s just another week in the life of an organic winery, with Alan Viader at the helm. Please keep in touch with us to learn more about news at the vineyard and our various product releases and specials. Coming up to harvest is the busiest and most exciting time at our vineyard. We’d love to have you come for a visit and feel free to ask questions below.
Cabernet Franc is one of the grapes Delia planted early on when settling on Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain in 1986. Both the namesake VIADER Proprietary Red Blend (30% Cab Franc in 2009) and the DARE by Viader single varietal (100%) show how the grape’s femininity, elegance and seductiveness shines through when cultivated here in the New World. Delia chose to focus on this particular grape variety because it had always captured her attention. She found Cabernet Franc to be intriguing, pleasant – almost voluptuous – on the palate, and moreover it was not prevalent in Napa Valley in the early 1980′s when she established the winery. Our inaugural release of VIADER back in 1989 had 40% Cab Franc as well. Since the beginning, Delia has been committed to blending and bottling this noble grape to capture its finesse and character which is unlike any other grape variety.
The grape is one of the five Bordeaux varietals and the dominant red grape of Loire Valley’s Chinon dating back several centuries. By the 18th century, the grape was widely planted in Pomerol and St.-Emillion. And while rarely the dominant player in wines of Bordeaux, it’s a significant component in the wine that inspired Delia’s choice: Cheval Blanc. In fact, the VIADER clone of Cabernet Franc is one of the few in existence that comes from the same St.-Emilion, Bordeaux area.
The Cabernet Franc varietal is mostly added to the VIADER Proprietary Red Blend for its lovely perfume that brings to mind violets, rich raspberries and plums, with a bit of red currant. The tannins show more restraint than those in its close relative Cabernet Sauvignon so the finish is smoother and silkier.
Here on Howell Mountain in sunny Napa Valley we love the expression of Cab Franc in both the small production VIADER and DARE by Viader wines, exploding with ripe dark plums and berries yet finishing smoothly with an elegance all of its own. If you haven’t yet tried our current releases, please come for a tasting soon or visit our website for more information.