What We Say 2007 'West Face' Cabernet Sauvignon
INCREDIBLE WINE ALERT!:
Today’s wine is, well, incredible. Need we say more? Well, we will, anyway. Our Elite Operative Saturday wine is among the finest 2007 Cabs we have had the pleasure to taste. We love love love Tom Farella – and his amazing wines.
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Mission Codename: New Heights
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Farella-Park Vineyards, who’s wines have so delighted and impressed our Operatives that they have been clamoring for more. Rendezvous with Tom Farellla and sample his wines. Retrieve his best, for our Elite Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Farella Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2007 West Face Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Tom Farella
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest burgundy hues, with a darker, opaque heart. When spun, this wine appears heavy and rather solid. As it settles, pencil-point tears form high up on the glass, and then run very slowly downward.
Smell – Deeply aromatic, with fruit and spice that absolutely launch from the glass, delighting your sniffer with blackberry, blueberry, black tea, dry cured olive, Himalayan salt, licorice, dark chocolate and warm spice.
Feel – Plush and velvety, up front, then quickly grippy and mouth-filling with a crushed velvet feel at the mid-palate. Ripe tannins and a bright acidity add measures of complexity and elegance. After a few moments, a flavor-rich dryness spreads from the back of the palate to the lips.
Taste – Loaded with bold flavors, this delicious wine bursts forth on the palate with smoky blackberry preserve, black raspberry, cocoa dust, black cherry, toasted oak, exotic spice, subtle dried meats and a hint of black pepper.
Finish – Ultra long, with flavors that seem to sustain forever. Even as the wine begins to dry the palate, and black pepper is revealed, dark fruit flavors still remain.
Conclusion – This is another tremendous wine from our friend, Tom Farella. We are absolutly crazy about Tom’s wines, and this one is the best we have tasted, to date. 2007 was an exceptional year for California red wines, and Tom has wrought even more magic out of this impressive vintage. His 2007 West Face Cabernet Sauvignon is a big, bold wine that, despite its impressive dimensionality, does not overpower. Instead, we find this wine to have balance; It is both elegant and poweful. Drinking beautifully right now, we’ll be holding onto a few bottles for the next several years. It is sure to become even better!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Tom Farella
WINE EDUCATION: UCDavis grad in Viticulture & Enology 1983
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Neyers, Flora Springs harvests 1980,1981, 1982. Winemaker Preston Vineyards 1983 – 1989. Harvest Domaine Carneros 1989, 1990, 1991. Harvest Farella-Park 1989, 1990. Harvest +, Domaine Jacques Prieur Meursault, France (Burgundy) 1989. Harvest Ponzi vineyards 1990. Vineyard work, Beaux Freres (Oregon) early 1991. Winemaker Farella-Park 1991 to Present.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Balanced wine with full, ripe flavors but just short of oaky, hot, tannic or syrupy qualities. Vibrancy. Age-worthiness.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”I like to make our wines so that they are mildly addictive, especially with food. That’s a testament to vibrancy and balance.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Farella-Park, 1985
AGENT RED: Greetings, Tom. Welcome back! We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
TOM FARELLA: Sure! Happy to be back in the secret wine lair.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
TOM: It sounds corny but we took a family vacation to Burgundy when I was 12 and it really got my juices flowing – no pun intended. The concept of harvesting a farm product and transforming it into wine –- a finished product that you crafted, labeled and could later hand somebody – really intrigued me. The many disciplines required made it seem like a fascinating career. We were having a little wine for family occasions in the European tradition, at the time, so it wasn’t a foreign concept to aspire to a career in the industry. We also had a farming tradition on my mom’s side and I was a bit of a science nerd so the many facets were very compelling.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
TOM: I was exposed to French wines early on so the “balanced wine” world was the original template. Bruce Neyers, Lou Preston, Tom Dehlinger, Dick Ponzi and my dad kind of formed my attitudes.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
TOM: [poss answers: myself, consumers, wine reviewers, other?] We’re adamant to make wines that we drink and enjoy and not sell out by all the usual tricks – over-oaking, hot finishes, syrupy acid profiles, and the like. I can’t drink more than a glass of that style. Since we are in Napa Valley, many of the high scoring wines fit that profile but we are dedicated to balance and making wines that are invigorating and worthy of way more than a glass. Ours are not wimpy wines. Make no mistake about that, but they stay just shy of overblown.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
TOM: Our 2007 “West Face” Cabernet is from several blocks on our vineyard estate in the heart of the Coombsville area of Napa Valley. Our vineyard faces due west on a slope above the valley floor and gets bathed in afternoon sun right up to sunset. Over the years, we have noticed how the various blocks tie together to make the blend and the 2007 is a pure classic. All of my descriptors on this wine seem to have “black” in the name: blackberry, black olive, black licorice, dark chocolate. That’s just the vineyard talking.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
TOM: Robust meals come to mind. I just barbecued some beef tenderloins the other day with salty bruschetta and grilled green beans. It was a match made in heaven. Robust pasta dishes are great, too. I have to admit I tend to break all the rules with wine and food pairing so I would drink this wine with almost anything. We had a 1997 version the other night at Oenotri in Napa and I had a delicate black cod dish with it. Yum!
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley such a special place for Cabernet Sauvignon?
TOM: It blows my mind how delicate the balance is for growing any particular varietal. 2011 is a great case in point since we barely made it to full ripeness with the late Spring, and all. A few years ago, we were dealing with excessive heat. The bookends for a great wine region may not come for 20 years or more but we are seeing it a lot, recently. If you look at the Napa Valley on a relief map you can really see what a unique, special place it really is. Sonoma Valley shares many of the same attributes… but try to name 5 great Cabernets from there. There’s something about the daylight and nighttime hours of the day that is special. I have noticed that there is almost a “breathing” effect of the airflow in the Napa Valley that is quite unique. The hot air balloons ride these currents in the morning hours. Also, the soil profiles are quite special with the high degree of gravelly volcanic soils in the choice spots, especially closer to the east side of the Valley.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
TOM: Trying to stay current with all the changes in the industry over the years. The way wines are sold and consumed are so different than 20 years ago and the competition is fierce. As we wrap up the miniscule 2011 harvest, I have to shift into high gear on all the other fronts of the business since we are very small and I do most of the business, marketing and oversee the vineyard and our 56 acre property. It’s rare that I hire out to do that stuff, which is one of the reasons we can keep our prices in check. We also sell grapes to quite a few other artisanal wineries in Napa so I am also deep in that area. Lots of work in that area, too, to wrap up the vintage.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
TOM: I love when they just get into them and enjoy them with a meal, family, some friends. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to enjoy a nice wine. Our wines hold up well after a couple of days of being open so it’s not a huge commitment, or anything The prices are pretty good, considering the quality and pedigree so I love it when we provide people’s “go-to” wine.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
TOM: We are in a special spot in the Napa Valley just a few miles from the ever-changing downtown Napa. We love to share what we’re doing (by appointment!) and it’s a breath of fresh air here, compared to the main arteries of the Valley. All smaller-lot wines are unique so we are just playing to our strengths and keeping it real. I know that sounds snobby but a visit will affirm what were doing and back it up. Wine can be a lifetime of study or as simple as “I like that” so don’t get overwhelmed. Just pull the cork and go for the ride!
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Farella Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
93 Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate – “The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon West Face boasts an opaque ruby/purple hue as well as an expressive bouquet of creme de cassis, sweet cherries, licorice, earth and spice. Full-bodied and opulent with exuberant purity and outstanding concentration and texture, this beauty should drink well for 10-15+ years. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is stilling performing beautifully in a quarter of a century. Probably the finest wines I have tasted from Farella-Park, consumers should be searching the marketplace for these bargain priced beauties.” (Dec. 2010)
About This Wine:
Our varietal Cabernet displays the complexity from the vintage, in general, and the blackberry/black olive from our site in particular. It is quite robust and is just hitting its stride with a relatively firm backbone under layers of blackberry, olive, dark chocolate and toasty oak. The 2007 was a hit in Robert Parker’s final review of Napa Cabernets.
About The Winery, Winemaker and Vineyards:
This year marks the 27th vintage for me as a vintner, something my father, Frank Farella, encouraged me to do as a boy while blazing a trail along the way. When I was 12 years old, our family visited the Burgundy region in France which illuminated winemaking as a beautiful mixture of science, farming, craft, creativity and old-fashioned hard, physical work. It doesn’t hurt that most fine wine regions of the world are also in beautiful places.
My father’s long-sought goal to grow wine grapes from a modest, depression-era background was a story that unfolded slowly and steadily for us. In the mid 70’s, it was actually affordable to buy land here but the process of establishing a 26 acre vineyard was far less clear-cut. Most of us in the wine business learned together, piece by piece, in a time when the Napa Valley had a lot of potential but not much credibility. Now, in the new millennium, we find ourselves literally leading the way in a vast, complex industry that seems to always start from lofty dreams and hard work much like my father’s story.
The path for me led to UC Davis, Neyers and Flora Springs in Napa, Preston in Sonoma, Prieur in Meursault, Ponzi and Beaux Freres (vineyard) in Oregon and finally back to our home vineyard a few miles from downtown Napa. We relish our role as growers for other prestigious wineries while keeping just a few favorite blocks for ourselves. Our practices are steeped in quality and experience with a solid dose of maintaining a healthy, natural environment. We are blessed with a location against the Vaca Mountains that is abundant in wildlife and has a perfect sunset seemingly every day.
As I grow older, fewer places seem to match the raw beauty of the Napa Valley and I never grow weary of the work. It really is a fascinating thing to take a plant, stick it in the ground, grow some luscious fruit, ferment it naturally, age it in an oak barrel, draw off the clear wine and put it in a bottle. In 5, 10, 20, 30 years you may find out what that little plant in that place is really all about. This magic is what we offer from our little slice of a very unique spot in a special valley on the planet.
Our winemaking philosophy starts with a balanced vineyard and finishes with balanced wines with an eye toward service with food, the perfect compliment – and vice-versa. These are wines that reflect the location, something innate to the land and shaped by our philosophy. We offer something unique and very personal all bottled up, sealed with a cork, nice and neat. We encourage you to visit and taste and see for yourselves.