What We Say 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes even better than that, as is the case with today’s wine from Fantesca Estate & Winery.
EXCLUSIVE ALERT: We infiltrated the private wine archives of today’s winery to bring you a wine unavailable even from the winery itself!
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT: Today’s wine is spectacular! Need we say more? Just remember Mom. Mother’s Day is right around the corner and the gorgeous Fantesca bottle makes a very elegant gift…
FREE SHIPPING ALERT: Enjoy Free Ground Shipping on six or more bottles, with promotional code CABSPY
Mission Codename: Tripping the Light Fantesca
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Penetrate the secret archives of Fantesca Estate & Winery to retrieve a Spies-Only allocation of their fabled 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Fantesca Estate & Winery
Wine Subject: 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – Spring Mountain District
Winemakers: Nils and Kirk Venge
Backgrounder: The Spring mountain District in California’s Napa Valley is rich with winemaking history. One of the most revered regions in the Napa Valley, the site of today’s Fantesca Estate & Winery was once the dowry of Caroline Bale when she married Charles Krug in 1860. In 1898 the site was producing award winning Cabernet. Today, under the stewardship of Susan and Duane Hoff, the vineyards on the land are thriving, and Fantesca is producing wines of remarkable distinctiveness and incredible refinement.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – A deeply concentrated ruby red color which maintains great depth of color right out to the wine’s edges. On swirling, the wine remains looks deep and rich-looking, with a tight surface and skinny, tightly-spaced legs that crawl down the inside of the glass.
Smell – DEEPLY aromatic with an elegant blast of violets and deep fruits of raspberry, blueberry and stewed plum with red currant and sweet pomegranate, balanced against fresh rosemary, thyme, and even a hint of rosin
Feel – Cool and light at first, the wine glides across the front palate then becomes mouth-coating with wonderfully round medium tannins
Taste – Beautifully balanced bright and dusky flavors, with layers of mixed red berries, dark plum, dark cherry with fresh cut herbs and smoky cedar
Finish – Begins bright, sweet and fruity, then is followed by a soft tartness and flavors that tail off slowly with a velvety dryness
Conclusion – This is a very special wine that delivers a real sense of the place and people from which the wine sprang. The Fantesca vineyard itself is one which is richly steeped with history and it sits in an area that is beyond legendary for producing some of the finest wines in Napa Valley. Add the passions of winery owners Susan and Duane Hoff and the meticulous winemaking craftsmanship of winemakers Nils and KirkVenge, and you create the magic that is Fantesca. Today’s wine is a rare gem that we were very fortunate to be able to bring to you today. We issue a hearty thank you to Susan and Duane for allowing us to raid their private stash and we are proud to introduce your wine to our Operatives!
We’ve had Fantesca Estate & Winery under close surveillance for some time now. When we learned that their 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon had been retired to the winery’s library we sprang into action.
A note about “Library Wines”:
Library Wines are wines that are pulled out of general circulation by the winery that produces them. Sometimes these wines are held in reserve for winery staff only. On rare occasions, a winery may release a library wine to the public or to its special club members.
For today’s wine, we were fortunate – okay, skillful enough to procure a small quantity for our Operatives. How? Well, that’s my personal tradecraft and you know that I can’t reveal all of my secrets.
I will say that after a protracted surveillance I knew that I needed to go after the 2003. Don’t get me wrong here, their current vintages are superb. In fact, that’s why I had my sights set on the ’03. With the current vintage drinking as good as it was, I knew that the ’03 would be something special. Whenever I try a recent vintage that I love, I invariably go after a previous vintage. Great wines of today almost always make for superb wines when they gotten a little bottle age on them.
Once I had my wine-target in mind, I began the delicate process of procurement. After a couple of meetings with a contact I had developed inside the winery – Codename: Double H I had the intel I needed to infiltrate the head of the organization. A week later I met Fantesca owner, Duane Hoff, at a wine industry event.
Duane is a charismatic and instantly likable guy with easy demeanor and a permanently-smiling face. I introduced myself, declared my intentions, and a spirited conversation ensued. Ten minutes later, with the former assistance of Double H, the deal was done and I had secured a handful of cases of this very special wine.
Once again, a warm and very hearty thanks to Duane, Double H and the entire crew at Fantesca for this wonderful opportunity to share their superb wine with our Operatives. This wine may never be made available again and certainly not at our special price.
If you love great, GREAT Napa Cabernet and appreciate wines with a few years on them, I wholeheartedly recommend this gem of a wine. From its beautiful etched diamond-patterned bottle, to the elegant juice inside, this wine is ready to drink now – and will continue to age well for at least another 6 to 10 years.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Fantesca Estate & Winery, where today’s Cabernet Sauvignon was magically crafted, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Fantesca Estate & Winery
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About This Wine:
The grapes for this Napa Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon were harvested from Fantesca Estate on Spring Mountain in 2003. The wine from this vintage yields a hint of rich and sweet fresh-cut herbs such as rosemary and thyme, together with a slight pine essence. These herbal notes are subtle and offer a beautiful contrast and complexity to this wine’s rich fruit character. We believe that the herbal complexities in this wine are due in part to the cooler climate of the Spring Mountain appellation as compared to other Napa AVAs.
On the palate, the wine is impeccably balanced, with soft, well-integrated tannins that seem perfectly matched to its level of fruit. As a result, this striking example of Napa Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
About The Winery:
Fantesca Estate & Winery is rich with history, having originally been in the dowry of Caroline Bale when she married Charles Krug in 1860. Even then, the property was recognized as prime mountain vineyard land and the perfect place for a Spring Mountain winery. In 1889, a Cabernet made by Hannah Weinberger, one of the earliest female winemakers, won one of the first awards for a wine from the Napa Valley.
Susan and Duane Hoff were college sweethearts at the University of Minnesota and have been happily married since 1988. Cupid was not finished with Susan and Duane, however: in many subsequent vacations to the Napa Valley over the years, the Hoffs fell in love with the possibilities that Napa Valley presented to them.
As top executives holding frenetically fast-paced jobs at Best Buy, Susan and Duane began to seek their next careers, knowing that they wanted to turn to a slightly slower pace of life and enjoy the gratification of a job well done. They also dreamed of having a family business in which their two children, Taylor and Chelsea, could get involved in everything from designing a wine label to harvesting the grapes. It thrilled them to envision their children having a hand in making the wine that could someday be served at their weddings.
Susan and Duane started looking for properties with which to found a winery. They were soon introduced to Cary Gott, a wine industry veteran of over 35 years who was to become their trusted business advisor and a close friend. They had looked at more than a dozen properties by the time Gott learned that a property in the highly-regarded Spring Mountain District was for sale. The Hoffs were immediately taken with the house, vistas and gardens – so much so that when recounting their first visit, Duane laughed, and said, “I don’t want to see anymore of the house; I want to taste the wine, because if the quality of the wine isn’t there, we can’t purchase the house.” Luckily for the Hoffs, the wine quality was in the barrel, and they closed on the property in February 2004, thus founding their Spring Mountain winery.
Indeed, the Hoff’s goal for any property they purchased was to produce nothing less than world-class wines. To accomplish this objective, the Minneapolis natives teamed up with noted Napa father-son winemaking duo Nils and Kirk Venge to craft their wines. As a result, their 1000-case Spring Mountain District winery released its first wines in the fall of 2005 – the 2002 Fantesca Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2004 Chardonnay from the Los Carneros District.
From those early days, Susan and Duane have continually honored their commitment to producing wines that Mrs. Weinberger would be proud of in their estate vineyard, wine cave, and winery. Indeed, both care very deeply about the caliber of the wines they produce, and each is actively involved in the grape-growing and winemaking process. Both know, however, that making world-class wine must involve world-class people, and thus it is the people of Fantesca Estate & Winery (together with their faithful companions) who apply the same lively spirit and passion for winemaking that defined Mrs. Weinberger’s remarkable achievement.
In early 2008, this spirit came full circle as Fantesca proudly welcomed an exciting new addition to their winemaking team, veteran winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett, whose stellar Napa Valley resume includes winemaking stints at Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, and her own La Sirena.
The same passion for producing great wines is also evident in Fantesca’s commitment to the arts: Susan and Duane are regular contributors to a number of community art and theater programs. Indeed, Susan and Duane have followed their muse. While both enjoy the hard work that comes with owning a Spring Mountain winery, they allow plenty of room for fun, as anyone who has pulled a cork from a Fantesca wine will know.
Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Spring Mountain District
Winemakers: Nils and Kirk Venge
Released: January 2007
Cases produced: 850