What We Say 2005 Napa Valley Syrah
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Mission Codename: European Leanings
Operative: Agent Red, with Agent Sparkle
Objective: Continuing our celebration of Women Winemakers, return to Viader and return with another one of their incredible wines – and an interview with winemaker, Delia Viader
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Viader
Wine Subject: 2005 Syrah
Winemaker: Delia Viader
The popularity of Syrah is undeniable. Big and bold in flavor and texture, it packs a concentrated punch of flavor that many people love. This Rhone varietal, although many believe that the grape originated in the Persia region, is 100% French in lineage. The Syrah grape is directly descendant from the Monduese Blanche and Dureza varietals and is grown worldwide with great success. Today’s delightful Syrah is a bold delight with original flavors, deep aromatics and a ultra-fine mouth feel.
For today’s wine, Agent Red returns to Viader to procure their 2005 Petite Sirah, a wine that is much sought after by the winery’s most ardent Syrah fans. Read Red’s tasting notes below, for the full story on today’s wine – and be sure to read Agent Sparkle’s interview with winemaker, Delia Viader.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet with a dark heart of nearly Burgundy. The wine has a pronounced snappiness to its surface that, when swirled, leaves behind widely-spaced, skinny and slow-moving legs that crawl slowly down the glass
Smell – Beautifully aromatic with perfumy earthen black cherry, black currant, dark plum, fine black and white pepper, soft spices, tobacco and smoky meats
Feel – Velvet smooth on entry, then the wine deepens on the mid-palate, digging in with a soft tannic bite that emerges gradually, bringing brightness and a slight dryness
Taste – Lush layers of flavors, including cherry, red raspberry, red plum, soft dry minerals, spice and softest cedar
Finish – Ripe, juicy and dusky, softly mouth-coating, delicious and supple, with soft tannins and flavors that go on and on
Conclusion – This delicious Syrah shows off Delia Viader’s skill at making wines that express a traditional, old world, flair – that is lovingly balanced against the terroir of the California fruit that she uses. Today’s offering is a delightfully rich treat that has us exploring the wine at great length. We have long been fans of Viader wine, and today our love for Delia’s wines are only reinforced. This wine is rich and dark, but totally approachable and well suited to solo-drinking or pairing with finer foods. A hearty thank you to Delia for today’s wine – and for the interview below!
In continuing with our special Women Winemaker Week on The Wine Spies, we are proud to present Agent Sparkle’s interview with Delia Viader:
AGENT SPARKLE: Hi Delia. I know that you’ve been travelling, so I appreciate that you took the time to speak with me today. I’ll jump right in. Tell me, what inspired you to become a winemaker?
DELIA VIADER: It was a combination of luck and favorable circumstances. My father had land on Howell Mountain…I figured I could do something with it. three more years at UC Davis and a small loan from my father made it all possible.
How long have you been making wine?
DELIA: I have been making wine for 27 years straight.
SPARKLE: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
DELIA: To manipulate the wine as little as possible, and to bring out the most from the terroir – or, really, what’s the fastest route between a magnificent world class producing vineyard and the magnificent proof in the glass?
SPARKLE: Who do you make wine for?
DELIA: To enjoy with great food, to make people feel good about themselves and as an artistic expression.
SPARKLE: Do you think that women winemakers have an advantage over their male counterparts?
DELIA: Not really but genetically, what women cannot drink in quantity, we can discern in quality and that’s been proven. Women in wine have the ability to identify nuances in wine at a much more minute level than their male counterparts.
SPARKLE: What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered in your career, and how have you overcome it?
DELIA: There have been many, big and small, but really what counts is what has been achieved and what lies ahead…I am a firm believer in the future and an eternal optimist about the possibilities.
SPARKLE: Who is your favorite woman winemaker and why?
DELIA: Myself, because I “know” me pretty well and I know how hard I can push myself. I am a fast learner and a hard, disciplined worker.
SPARKLE: What is the one question that you would ask another woman winemaker – and what is your answer to that question?
DELIA: How to tame a high Ph grape into something that is highly pleasurable yet incredibly aromatic. The answer would be our "Viader “V” Petit Verdot, high natural acidity, bold tannins, needs a lot of gentle extraction and a lot of work, but in the end it becomes the most sensuous wine one can ever make.
SPARKLE: What is one piece of advice that you would give to a woman that is considering a career as a winemaker?
DELIA: Be patient, willing to work hard and long hours, and…never never ‘give up’
SPARKLE: Is there gender equality among winemakers?
DELIA: Never and why should there be? I consider being a woman amongst a clearly male dominated industry a tremendous advantage
SPARKLE: What is your current favorite wine?
DELIA: RED…anything well made, balanced, in harmony.
SPARKLE: What was the last wine you drank and did you enjoy it?
DELIA: RED…last night, and yes, I enjoyed it…by the way it was not mine, but Australian. And no, not monster Shiraz but a velvety…pinot!!! of all possibilities. It really surprised me.
SPARKLE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
DELIA: Osso buco and creamy polenta with buffala mozzarella cheese and organic tomato and basil sauce ;)
SPARKLE: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
DELIA: I am an avid reader…a book worm of sorts. I enjoy early American history books.
SPARKLE: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
DELIA: How did you manage to raise four children on your own, and make terrific wines that made it to the top 5 three consecutive times in one of the top US magazines and got the best ratings by the top critics form all over the world consistently for over 25 years? My answer to is simple, HARD WORK and determination plus…darn good luck, but I work my luck!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Viader Winery, in beautiful Deer Park, at the upper end of Napa Valley, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Displaying dark ruby color with a slight purple-tinge, the 2005 VIADER Syrah exudes a pure and seductive aroma of ripe fig, blackberry, plums and smoke. Showing a touch of jammy quality, the wine balances the fruit with notes of cedar, hints of leather, cumin and Indian spices.
Dense red raspberry coats the palate, followed by white pepper, refined acidity and supple tannins. A lingering fruity finish accompanies enticing mineral and earthy notes.
At VIADER we make a style of Syrah that wine critic Robert M. Parker states is “seductive, alluring, elegant effort to enjoy now and over the next 3-4 years.”
Moderate weather provided a slow and steady rate of maturation, confirmed by the fully developed flavors tasted, and the ripe stems and seeds seen in the fruit. With near-ideal weather ripening the crop and yielding good fruit quality, coupled with rich color in the skins and good acidity, we found the fermentations producing dark, flavorful wines. This year seems is reminiscent of both 1994 and 1991, owing to the length and evenness of the growing season, the start of the Cabernet Sauvignon pick, phenolic maturity and balance of the fruit.
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.
Winemaker: Delia Viader, PhD
Appellation: Napa Valley
Avg. Brix at Harvest: 24.5º
Production: 447 cases