2001 Alta - Bordeaux Blend
Red Blend •Estate Vineyard
California: Napa Valley
What we say
LIBRARY RAID ALERT!
Today we raid Tom Farella’s personal stash, to bring you another exclusive wine that you cannot purchase anywhere else
INCREDIBLE WINE ALERT!:
Today’s wine is one of the finest red blends that we have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. Do not miss out.
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Mission Codename: New Heights
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Raid Tom Farella’s personal cellar and procure the remaining bottles of his stupendous 2001 Alta, his
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Farella Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2001 Alta
Winemaker: Tom Farella
Backgrounder: Intel reports suggested that Tom Farella was hoarding the remaing supply of 2001 Alta. Further, we learned that the wine was drinking exceptionally well at the moment. Agent Red was instructed to taste the bottle that Tom Farella had given him as a gift earlier this year. Red was under strict instruction infiltrate the winery – if the wine lived up to its reputation. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below for the full story
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep burgundy, with a dark and almost black heart, with a fast surface that leaves behind tightly-packed and chubby legs that take forever to emerge before moving slowly down the glass
Smell – Ripe, lush and complex with deep aromatics. Balanced dark fruit of blackberry, blueberry, cassis and cherry intermingles with dark chocolate, black olive, soft dried meats and mildest smoke
Feel – Light and velvet-smooth, this wine glides beautifully across the front of the palate. After a few moments, the wine magically shows off its supple tannins as it coats and leads to a slight dryness
Taste – Gorgeous and delicious with bright fruit of strawberry, cherry and cassis, balanced perfectly against darker flavors of black olive, chocolate, soft smoky oak and soft minerals
Finish – Extremely long, leading off with bright fruit that gradually surrenders to the darker side of the wine as the wines beautiful tannins take hold and add a slight dryness that begs you to take another sip
Conclusion – A stupendous wine that is drinking beautifully – now, and I suspect for years to come. A beautifully balanced wine, with aromas, feel and flavors all peacefully coexisting in perfect harmony, this is a very impressive with that is certain to garner the praise of even the most exacting wine drinker. If you are looking for en elegant wine that is also very approachable, I could not recommend this wine more highly!
When Tom Farella first gave me a bottle of today’s wine, he did so with the disclaimer that I should enjoy it – without the expectation that I could ever show it to our Operatives. And so, I put the bottle into my cellar. There it sat, calling out to me. That is, until H.Q. started receiving chatter about how exceptionally the wine had progressed.
Then, the order came in. I was to open the bottle that I had been saving, in order to evaluate it as a potential Library Raid target. My instructions were simple, "If the wine is great, infiltrate!.
And so it was that I convened a tasting panel. At first sip it was clear that I would be returning to Farella, in order to secure an allocation for our Operatives. The wine was, well, incredible.
Fortunately, all that was required was a call to Tom Farella, who took little convincing that our Operatives would love this wine. Tom agreed to cut away a handful of cases and you, my dear Operative, are the beneficiary of his kind generosity.
Thanks, Tom! We appreciate the allocation of this very special wine!
What follows, for your benefit, is a retransmission of our initial mission report, in which Agent Red first meets Tom Farella:
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 prestigious 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 oenology 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 referred to Tom as the local “Weather Guru”.
Tom’s vineyards 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 singular 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.
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:
Farella Alta, our Proprietary or “Bordeaux” blend, comes from different parts of our vineyard estate, composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. There were only 210 cases produced. It was fermented warm in a combination of open and closed tanks, pressed off after cap fall, with 20 days average on the skins. Transferred directly to Taransaud French oak from the Nevers region after press-off (75% new). Aged 28 months in barrels with 3 rackings. Unfined and unfiltered.
With ripe strawberry, blueberry, and cassis fruit, and a touch of cherry intertwined with dark chocolate, black olive, and smoke. The flavors are full, round and smooth with complex layers, succulent fruit and intense, dark chocolate/black olive backbone to the fine-texture tannins. Smooth and intense yet balanced for service with food.
The Inaugural 2001 Vintage Details:
After 17 vintages of wine from our small winery in the Napa Valley, we have produced a Proprietary or “Bordeaux” blend from different parts of our vineyard estate. This inaugural blend is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot.
It literally had taken this long to get this project off the ground. While our Farella-Park Merlot has been blended with some Cabernet all the way back to 1985, this project was different. The vision for this wine literally crystallized in my mind after tasting a 1999 Massetto from Italy, a wine that, ironically enough, is 100% Merlot. There was something about the complex aroma and depth that was very compelling but, moreover, the smooth arc of flavor and structure really caught my attention. I knew we had components in the cellar from newer and old blocks in the vineyard that could marry in a similar fashion and so the blending quest began. I knew I nailed it when my dad, our noble founder and toughest customer, simply remarked “Hmm, I like that.”
The lots selected for the blend comprised a large portion of our Old Vine Cabernet which has been the foundation of our varietal Cabernet since 1991. Added to that, is some of the Rockpile block which was planted in 1994 and represents the first wave of replanted Cabernet post-phylloxera. The Merlot is also a combination of two blocks, one being Orchard Block which lives on with its AxR roots (NON-phylloxera –resistant, to those who know or care) and a bigger portion of the Divide Block on the volcanic ashy soils near the road, most of which goes to Pahlmeyer.
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.
Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon 70%, Merlot 30%
Cases produced: 300, 10 cases magnums
Winemaking: Fermented warm in a combination of open and closed tanks, pressed off after cap fall, 20 days average on the skins. Transferred directly to Taransaud French oak from the Nevers region after press-off, 75% new. Aged 28 months in barrels with 3 rackings.
Processing: Unfined and unfiltered.
pH: 3.75 p
Release Date: May 2006