2004 Farella-Park Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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INCREDIBLE WINE ALERT!: Today’s wine the best under $40 Napa Cabernet Sauvignons that we have had the pleasure to sample in 2008
SAVINGS ALERT!: Order six or more bottle today, and we’ll give you Free Ground Shipping – but only if you enter coupon code: CABSPY
Mission Codename: A walk in the Farella Park
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate the best sub-$50.00 that Napa Valley has to offer
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Farella Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2004 Farella-Park Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Tom Farella
Backgrounder: Napa, California is highly regarded for its fine wines. Particularly for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines available – anywhere in the world. The problem that some Operatives have with Napa Valley Cabs? The high prices of most great Cabs! Today, Agent Red returns, triumphant, after a long and difficult sojourn through Napa Valley. Read his tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep burgundy, with a dark and almost black heart with a speedy but heavy-looking surface that settles fast after swirling, leaving behind thin legs that start slow and then streak down the glass
Smell – Richly lush layers of dark and smoky fruits, with a soft rush of blackberry, cassis and cherry with mild spice, soft cigar box and a wisp of licorice. After some swirling the wine emoted with subtle earth and fresh salad herbs and a hint sweet oak
Feel – This is round at its very first entry, then is followed by soft tannins and a deep texture that coats your mouth and feels suddenly bigger – but then something unique happens; the wine becomes bright and light again, delivering a secondary rush of flavors!
Taste – SUPER Delicious and deeply layered with initial concentrated flavors of dark mixed berries, soft plum, and cassis. As mentioned above, after first flavors hit and then tail off slightly, a second and brighter wave of flavors emerge, with strawberry, cranberry and bright cherry!
Finish – Extra long finish with modulating flavors (see Feel and Taste above) with soft tannins that dry but then leave behind a flavorful sweetness that ultimately tapers off gradually
Conclusion – This is a wonderful wine! I love sleuthing out wines that deliver a unique experience, especially when that experience comes from a wine that performs way above its price class. This price/performance ratio is often called “QPR”, or the “Qulaity Price Ratio”. This is a wine whose QPR of off the charts, with a super-unique mouthfeel, modulating and delicious flavors, deep layers of aromas and an intriguing finish. I recommend this wine for so many reasons, but primarily becuase it is a delicious and fun to drink wine that outperforms many other heavyweight Napa cabs!
Earlier this week, I had the great pleasure to visit with Tom Farella, owner and winemaker for Farella Vineyard, at the very south-east corner of Napa Valley.
It is a busy, sometimes hectic time of year for wineries. Winemakers and vineyard managers now find themselves spending hours each day in the vineyards, checking the vines, and watching for that exact moment when the first hints of purple appear on the grapes. That starts a regimented countdown to the fall harvest. Its a somewhat nerve racking time of year – for most winemakers – and Tom is busy preparing and observing.
Tom is a lifer in the wine business. In 1979 he planted the first vineyards that bares his family name. Today, he grows grows cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and syrah. Most of the fruit is sold to such high-end Napa wine labels as Lail Vineyards, Honig, Far Niente, Pahlmeyer, Luna Vineyards, Robert Keenan Winery and Realm Cellars. Specific rows of the vineyards are held in reserve for these prestegious wineries and Tom sometimes has his hands full with winemakers as as many as a half-dozen are visiting the grapes on a busy day.
Tom Farella is no ordinary winemaker and do describe his so simply would be to ignore his roles as vineyard manager and adviser to winemakers on a broad range of subjects, from the weather (Tom is a self-described “Weather Geek”), to harvest timing, to crush and wine-making. Tom has been making wine since he graduated from the oenology program at the University of California at Davis, where he received a degree in enology and viticulture. His career has taken him to France and he has participated in nearly every aspect of the wine trade. Local winemakers and vineyard managers look to Tom for advice. One local that I spoke with refered to Tom as the local “Weather Guru”.
Tom’s vineyeards are situated in the far southeastern corner of Napa Valley, known locally as “Coombsville.” The unique soil composition and cooler climate of the region gives wines from here uniquley special characteristics. Tom does not aim for singlular differences in his wines. Rather, he shoots for layers of flavors and aromas. Tom also describes his wines as food wines. This is memorialized on the *"Farella with Food" T-Shirts that are available in his tasting room. The wine that we are featuring today, Tom’s superb 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, comes from a combination of Farealla’s Old Vine & Rockpile blocks which are positioned on a steep slope facing due west. For the cooler Coombsville area, this gives ideal exposure to the late afternoon sun, a key to slow development of color & tannin in this great wine.
Among many on our tasting panel, today’s wine is one of the finest Cabs tasted so far this year. And we have had the great pleasure to taste some incredible wines!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Farella Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Farella Vineyards, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
One hundred percent Cabernet Sauvignon from our estate vineyard in the southeastern corner of Napa Valley known locally as “Coombsville.” It is a combination of our Old Vine & Rockpile blocks which are positioned on a fairly steep slope facing due west. For the cooler Coombsville area, this gives ideal exposure to the late afternoon sun, a key to slow development of color & tannin. 195 Cases produced. Fermented fairly warm in a combination of open and closed tanks, pressed off after cap fall, 20 days total on the skins. Transferred directly to French oak from the Nevers region after press-off, 40% new. Aged 28 months in barrels with 2 rackings. Unfined and unfiltered.
Rich, robust mouthfeel with ample yet fairly soft tannins. Aromas and flavors of calamata olives, strawberry/cassis fruit, blackberry, deep, smoky spice and a hint of licorice. Long, supple finish for a wine of this structure
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.