2005 DARE Cabernet Franc
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
Today’s wine deserves special recognition, for it is a divine example of Cabernet Franc. These special alerts are issued when we sleuth out a really great wine.
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Mission Codename: I (Via)Dare you!
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Procure a stunning Napa Valley Cabernet Franc for our impatient, Franc-loving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Viader
Wine Subject: 2005 Cabernet Franc
Winemakers: Delia Viader, Alan Viader and Michel Rolland
Cabernet Franc is one of Agent Red’s favorite red varietals. Perhaps this is because its flavors are often rich, layered, complex and elegant. Or, perhaps he loves Cabernet Franc so much because it pairs so exceptionally with many different foods. One of the most notable things about Cabernet Franc is the fact that finding excellent examples can be very difficult. This explains why we have not shown a Cab Franc here in some time. Agent Red recently scoured the Napa Valley to bring you today’s exceptional selection from our new friends at Viader. Red Red’s tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look Beautiful, deep burgundy with a deep heart of dark garnet with concentrated color right out to its edges at the outside of the glass. Heavy and fast-settling, this wine leaves behind tightlly-packed skinny-thin legs that crawl down the glass at differing speeds
Smell – Perfumy rushes of bright fruit of cherry, cassis and tart plum lead the way and then yield to lusher and more dark aromas of mixed berry, smoky cedar, oak, spice and a hint of sweet tobacco
Feel – Velvety and very wet, up front, then smooth lush tannins grab hold at the mid while the wine coats the entire mouth and introduce a slight drying effect
Taste – Cassis, cherry, strawberry, plum and raspberry with distinctive and delicious pine tar, Dutch licorice, mineral and smoky black cherry
Finish – Ultra-long and velvety, flavorful then slightly drying – which makes your mouth water, reminding you to take another delicious sip
Conclusion -This Viader Cabernet Franc is a stunning example of great Cabernet Franc. Its an American wine that could teach a thing or two to French Cabernet Franc. It is supple, sophisticated, refined, and tons of fun to drink. An unpretentious wine, this is the sort of conversation wine that I have referred to in the past; It encourages exploration and discussion. Cabernet Franc is always a food friendly wine and this example is no exception. With a bright acidity, balance and great flavors that won’t overpower most foods, this wine could pair with nearly any food. Are you a current Cabernet Franc drinker? If you are, you’ll flip for this wine. If not, I’ll issue this warning: Do NOT buy this wine if you don’t want to become hooked on great Cab Franc!
As a regular reader of my mission reports, you know of my profound love of Cabernet Franc. To me, this underdog varietal does not get the respect that it deserves. Well, in this country, anyhow.
Cabernet Franc, the genetic parent of Cabernet Sauvignon (its other parent is Sauvignon Blanc), when done right, is the perfect red wine for any situation. With enough acidity to make it a great pairing partner for most foods, and enough flavor to make it a superb solo-sipper, Cab Franc delivers on flexibility and great taste.
Sometimes, my love for the varietal gets on the nerve of my fellow agents. Some of my colleagues seem to think that the zeal with which I pursue the perfect Cabernet Franc – and the length of time I may take to find it – is misguided and unproductive. I strenuously disagree, of course, but this does partially explain why you have not seen a Cabernet Franc here in recent months. As much as it pained me, I had been staying away, deliberately. That, and I had been somewhat disheartened by the examples that I was tasting.
Recently, Agent Sparkle threw down a challenge. She reminded me of the Dazzling Dozen tasting that I had conducted last year. “I double dare you to find a better Cabernet Franc than last year’s winner,” She said.
She dared to dare me, did she? Well, if you know me like she does, you know by now that I cannot resist a challenge. Especially not one having to do with finding an exceptional Cab Franc! It was about time I was back on that particular case!
And so, I readily accepted. “Dare me? You should know better! How long do I have, a week?”
Agent sparkle laughed at this and said, “24 hours!”
I swallowed hard and tried to keep my cool. “I accept,” I said. I hoped that the did not hear the slight quaver in my voice.
Back in my auxiliary Ops Center, I sat an pondered my foolhardiness. 24 hours!? Not nearly enough time. She knows how picky I am about Cab Franc, I though. Why did I have to accept her dare.
Dare… Dare… DARE! That’s it, I thought, and quickly I logged on to my private server, accessing recent intel reports from assets in the field. Viader, in Napa, was at the top of the list of Cabernet Franc-producing wineries that I was advised to surveil. Most assets who tried Viader’s Dare, Cab Franc, reported on its supreme quality. Why had I not visited sooner?
A quick trip to the beautiful winery, set at 1200 feet on Napa’s fabled Howell Mountain, proved somewhat easier than I had expected, given that at Viader, tastings are by appointment only. Luckily, when I phoned in, I found that they had just had a cancellation.
After just 15 minutes with their 2005 Dare, I was absolutely enamored! Then and there I revealed my identity – and my intentions. Lucky for you, dear Operative, I was able to come away with a handful of cases of this beautiful wine.
As for Agent Sparkle’s challenge, a blind tasting of the 2005 Dare and 5 other superior Cabernet Francs proved to her that Cab Franc – and me, Agent RED, could still deliver.
And then some!
Enjoy today’s incredible Cabernet Franc. If you are a friend of Franc, you will not be disappointed. Never tried a Cab Franc? Go for it with today’s wine, but be warned: You’ll be hooked – and hard pressed to find a better example.
What the Winery Says
The fruit for the DARE Cabernet Franc is sourced from both our own estate vineyards on Howell Mountain and Jan Krupp’s Stagecoach Vineyards. Our estate vineyards are hand-farmed using only the finest natural organic materials. Stagecoach Vineyards is located on the upper surface of the Vaca Range Mountains above Oakville in the heart of Napa Valley.
The robe is a beautiful cherry red and the nose tempts you with aromas of red berries, plums, oak and sweet spices. After a few minutes of opening, darker fruits, smoke and peppery notes develop in the glass. On the palate the wine shows enticing flavors of ripe black cherries and strawberries supported by velvety tannins. Fully integrated oak flavors and a well-defined mid-palate. Hints of tobacco, vanilla and caramel carry the finish, making this wine ready to be enjoyed young or cellared for 1 to 4 years time from vintage date.
Our DARE Cabernet Franc receives an extensive cold-soaking, warm fermentations, extended macerations on the skins for up to 45-60 days and malo-lactic fermentation occurs while in barrel. The wine remains tucked away in our underground caves for the next 12-16 months in 100% French oak barrels to complete the wine-aging process.
Winter rains took pause for a dry, mild March then began again with record-setting precipitation late into the growing season delaying bloom and set. The summer months were cool and pleasant with few heat spikes. Fog and cool temperatures were a concern heading into September as sugar levels were yet to rise. Warm, nearly perfect conditions arrived with an Indian Summer making for a later than average harvest, allowing our fruit extended hang-time and ultimately excellent sugar development and balanced acids with an average crop load of what could be a signature vintage from Napa Valley.
About The Winery:
Founded in 1986 by Delia Viader, VIADER is located 1200 feet above the Napa Valley floor just northeast of St. Helena on the steep, rocky slopes of Howell Mountain. Emulating a European design quite rare in California, the vines are oriented up and down the steep hillsides, a planting method that optimizes sun exposure, vine density and erosion control. Planting on such a steep grade of 32 % is a challenge and requires meticulous hand farming.
The first VIADER wine was produced in 1989 and with that vintage a proprietary estate blend was established that features Cabernet Franc with Cabernet Sauvignon as its base element. At the time, this blend was a daring diversion from other Cabernet-based wines being made in Napa Valley. This blend has come to be the signature wine from VIADER.
Over the years, the product line has grown to include Syrah under the VIADER label and two additional brands: The “V” is a reserve Bordeaux-style blend featuring Petit Verdot. The DARE line features two distinct wines – a Cabernet Franc and a Tempranillo – made from selected vineyards. Born in Argentina, Proprietor Delia Viader spent much of her formative years in Europe and especially in France. She developed an international approach to business and a long range vision of success. Delia came to the United States as a post-graduate student and earned her PhD. While raising four children on her own, Delia forged the vision and design for this unique estate vineyard property, wine blend and brand.
Because of Delia’s dedication, persistence and attention to high ideals, VIADER was recognized early on as a first growth property and the wines have been highly coveted since inception. In the last few years, Delia’s children have come back to help manage and operate the business making this a true family concern. Alan Viader is Direction of Operations and Winemaking, Janet Viader is Director of Marketing and Sales. Mariela Viader (married to Alan) is in charge of the Culinary Program. In the winter of 2006, Michel Rolland, the world-renowned enologist, and family friend, was brought on as a winemaking consultant.
Delia has earned the reputation as a pioneer for planting the vines running directly down the mountain, in a style normally found in Bordeaux. After receiving initial cirticism, eventually Delia’s vineyards on Howell Mountain were regarded as an ideal model for growing super-premium quality grapes. The original focus on Cabernet Franc as the main blending component, thought to be radical upon release, was a natural harkening back to Delia’s European roots and her love of Cheval Blanc. The idea of a single woman running a successful winery business while raising a family of four children on her own was a rare happening in Napa Valley’s developing fine wine business in the late ‘80’s.
Over the years, Delia has remained true to her vision. Today Viader Vineyards is a thriving family business producing world-class wines from a magnificent, mature estate vineyard property complete with small bonded winery, underground caves, and a Hospitality Center which offers tours and tastings by appointment and a sophisticated wine and food pairing Culinary Program.
About The Winemaker:
Delia Viader, Owner/Winemaker – Argentine-born Delia Viader came to the United States as a post-graduate college student in the 1980s. She holds a doctorate in Philosophy from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France and pursued advanced business Studies at three American universities. At the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Delia studied Executive Programs in Financial Management, Corporate Strategy and Negotiation. She then moved to California and at the University of California Berkeley studied Financial Management, Corporate Market-Focused Organizations and Masters Program in Business Administration. Delia has four children ranging in age from 13 to 28 year of age, and even with the great feat of raising a family, has also managed to create a successful vineyard and winery. Delia’s family and fascination with fine wines has been her primary motivation for starting her beautiful winery overlooking the Napa Valley. After founding VIADER in 1986, Delia pursued programs in Enology and Viticulture offered at University of California Davis to better learn the practical theory behind making fine wine.