2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Estate
California: Sonoma County
What We Say
TOP SECRET ALERT: Today’s wine should be selling for $50, but the winemaker insists on delivering a great Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon at great value. Who are we to argue?
Mission Codename: The Hidden Gem
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Keep a sharp lookout for amazing wines
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Hans Fahden Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2003 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Israel Montanez
Awards and Accolades
Gold Medal – Jerry Mead 2007 New World International Wine Competition
Gold Medal – 2007 Los Angeles County Fair
Silver Medal – 25th West Coast Wine Competition
88 points – Wine Enthusiast Magazine
: : San Francisco, California : : Fort Mason : : Family Winemakers of California Tasting event : :
With more than 400 wineries and only two days to taste, I needed to employ my best strategic planning skills. There was simply no way I would be able to taste everything available to me.
Central Command had compiled a list of High Priority Target wineries, and I was tasting wines of all varietals and in all price ranges. Most of them good to great, and only a few real stinkers.
During the latter half of my second day, I initiated the final phase of my tasting which had me tasting only the highest end wines available. This was a phase I was looking forward to and after giving my palate a much needed rest, I reentered the pavilion like a man on a mission. Oh, yeah, I really was on a mission!
After tasting 2 or 3 really superb wines (you’ll enjoy learning of these in a future report), I spotted on of my newest assets, Codename “Shank”, chatting at one of the winery tasting tables.
Shank, so named for his passion for golf, is a wine industry insider. He works for a leading wine industry technology provider and hails from a winemaking family.
I walked over to the table and Shank introduced me to Karen Fahden of Hans Fahden Vineyards. Karen immediately poured me a glass and I took it for a swirl. I was instantly wowed and I explained that I had been seeking out $50+ wines. I thought that this one would fit right in and I asked Karen if the was $50 – or more. I was shocked by her answer. Karen explained that she gets that reaction a lot.
Right there at the table, I negotiated a nice quantity of bottles for our Agents. Any wine that drinks like a $50 bottle but costs less than half that deserves our best attention.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby red, with dark plum at its heart
Smell – A hint of vanilla with big cherry, casis, chocolate and subtle leather .
Feel – Soft and silky in the mouth with exciting but not harsh mid-palate tanins
Taste – If we had only one word to describe the taste of this wine it would be simply, “Delicious”. This elegant and tasty wine with earthy tones and flavors of stone fruit, dark cherry, vanilla and plum. The merlot in this wine adds a nice tannic quality, while the syrah adds a lovely juiciness that pleases the palate.
Finish – Long-lasting, all over mouth that taper off beautifully
Conclusion – If you love great Cabernet Sauvignon wine that possess balance, character, flavor and great aromatics, this is a great wine for you. I believe that this wine drinks like a $50 or higher-priced cab and have told this to the folks at the winery. Their answer is simple: “People keep telling us to raise our prices. This is the perfect reason to keep them low. We want everyone to be able to enjoy our wines and we will continue to create great wines at a fair price”. The Wine Spies look forward to their next vintage!
The Fahden vineyards and winery consists of 100 acres. It is located at 1200 feet, in a range of the Mayacamus Mountains, on a ridge above Calistoga, California. The property features panoramic views of Mt. St. Helena.
Hans and Marie Fahden, natives of Hamburg, Germany, purchased the property in 1912. They farmed the land growing grapes until the Prohibition was enacted in 1920. After destroying the vines that they had worked so hard to plant and tender, the family planted prunes.
Sixty years and two generations later, Antone and Lyall Fahden decided they liked cabernet sauvignon better than prunes and a new journey began to restore the land and make it productive. From 1982 to 1984, the family went to work, planting three vineyard areas. Separated by volcanic outcroppings and forests of Douglas Fir, these vineyards are now interspersed by picturesque ponds and a beautiful wine cave, which was tunneled into a formation of four million year old volcanic ash.
The Hans Fahden Winery became bonded in 1986. The first bottle of wine, which was produced from the 1987 vintage, was sold in 1992. The Hans Fahden Winery became licensed to conduct public tastings in 1996. Today, the Winery produces incredible award-winning wines that please the pallet and the pocketbook.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Dry Creek Valley can be seen in this satellite photo
Wine Spies Technical Wine Analysis
Appellation: Sonoma County
Varietal Blend: 85% Cabernet, 10% Merlot, 5% Syrah
Cooperage: 24 months on 50% American and 50% French oak
Total Acidity: 5.9 g/L
Cases Produced: 1,635
What the Winery Says
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2003 Hans Fahden Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon Our latest release, and the first made under the watchful eye of our new winemaker, Israel Montanez. Deep, dark flavors of black cherry fruit, enhanced by notes of cassis, vanilla, and chocolate are complemented with subtle toasty oak. Soft and silky tannins support a long and graceful finish. The Fahden Family, now in its third generation as growers, produces Cabernet Sauvignon. The limited production of 2,500 cases per year comes from our estate vineyards, located in the mountains on the western ridge above Calistoga. Our Sonoma County Mountain Cabernet is always deep in color and distinct in flavor, due to the influence of the volcanic ash soils in which they are grown. There is a unique note of earthiness not found in wines grown on the valley floor. Our first vintage was bottled in 1986. It was made in the traditional style producing a wine which was a chewy, tannic monster. We have spent the last decade developing a more elegant style of wine which is consistent vintage after vintage. This style reflects a balance between the intense character of mountain fruit that ensures aging ability, and makes the wine more approachable for enjoyment during the wine's youth. The new style has been further complemented with a program of tannin management and blending a small amount of Merlot to create a more complex mid-palate, pleasing mouth feel and smooth full-bodied finish. The wines are aged predominantly in American oak from Appalachia and Minnesota that adds a hint of vanilla leading to a smooth finish.