While a bottle of wine can be enjoyed in so many ways (I do love a glass of wine, a good book and some mellow music), my favorite way is to share it with friends. My husband and I recently opened a bottle of the 1998 Far Niente Cave Collection Cabernet Sauvignon with some friends at dinner and were rewarded with not only a beautiful bottle of wine but also with the thoughtful conversation about it.
We had fun looking back on the vintage and discussing what challenges that it presented to winemakers. 1998 remained cool through the first half of the year and then dramatically shifted to hot weather. What did this mean for winemaking? This meant stringent selection of clusters in the vineyard, careful sorting in the winery and blending only the best lots together. The result is a carefully crafted blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with 8% Cabernet Franc and 15% Merlot.
As the wine opened with our meal it offered aromas of dried blueberries, perfume, anise, nutmeg and light tobacco leaf. The silky-smooth entry developed into flavors of dried fruit with a long and lingering finish—a perfect complement to a delightful dinner with friends!
We have released an allocation of 1998 Far Niente Cave Collection Cabernet for your enjoyment. If you would like to replenish your cellar, you may do so online or call us at (707) 944-2861.
If you’ve been reading our posts about the Far Niente Cave Collection–our library of Napa Cabernet–you’ll notice that we’ve skipped a vintage. Our last post was about the 1996, and this month we’re writing about the 1998. This speaks perfectly to the nature of the Cave Collection. Although we release a small allocation of vintages from the Cave every January, certain vintages regularly sell out before the next Cave release, and some sell out altogether. The 1997 vintage is of the latter. Not to worry, though, as the 1998 is a beautiful, aged Cabernet still available for you to enjoy.
We are blessed in this valley to experience fairly consistent growing conditions from one year to the next, which are particularly suitable to wine grapes. Some years, though, are more challenging than others, and as often happens, the vintage’s reputation across the valley seems to be made on the weather more than on the quality and potential of the wine. The 1998 growing season experienced a long, cool spring, followed by an almost immediate turn into hot, summer temperatures. While the vines had less time to develop than usual, the weather came into balance and the grapes benefitted from the warmth of the season, coming to full ripeness before harvest. Fifteen years later, collectors who have 1998 Napa Cabs in their cellars know that the vintage has produced a gorgeous wine.
Keep an eye on this blog to hear Winemaker Nicole Marchesi’s impressions of the 1998 Far Niente Cave Collection Cabernet Sauvignon.
To replenish your cellar, you may order online or give us a call at (707) 944-2861.
Like the beautiful flowers in full bloom outside, our production crew is in full “bloom” inside the winery. We are moving swiftly from one project to another, taking care of each wine in our cellar. Last week we finished bottling our 2011 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Bottling is every winemaker’s least favorite task, but it is incredibly important and takes all hands on deck!
In the next few weeks, we will continue with our 2012 Napa Chardonnay, stirring and topping while at the same time preparing to bottle the 2010 Dolce. I’m also starting my next round of blending trials with the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon in anticipation of racking directly after the Dolce bottling.
And you thought winemakers had nothing to do after harvest!
Excuse me, that’s a provocative title for a wine seminar! Earlier this month I had the pleasure of defending just that concept in the context of Dolce. Pebble Beach Food & Wine afforded the opportunity for me to share the 2001 Dolce from three bottle sizes, ranging from 375ml, 750ml up to the magnum (1.5L), with about 80 guests.
The wines were fabulous! The 2001 vintage is rich with apricot flavors and honeyed, silky texture. And the expression proved true: the smaller bottles showed more of a perfume of stone fruits yet the magnum retained an earthy and mineral quality that was notably stronger.
Why? If I can put on my propeller-hat and make a scientific observation, I would suggest that the effects of oxidation were less noticeable in the larger bottle because subtle aroma notes were reductive in nature. I venture it’s all driven by oxygen ingress at bottling or over the lifetime in the bottle thereafter. It’s with some certainty that I feel the greatest oxygen insult to wine occurs on the bottling line – not afterward, but that’s the subject of a book, not blog.
I have two hunches: (1) each bottle, no matter the size, receives the same exposure to oxygen during the bottling process. And, (2) given that the 375ml, 750ml and magnum bottles all have roughly the same geometry in the neck and with the cork, it’s reasonable to assume that the factors which influence oxygen ingress over time are about the same for all three bottle sizes. (Hunch #2 can be forgotten if there are significant temperature fluctuations during storage … but that’s another story, too.)
The concept we should all remember is that the 750ml has twice as much volume as the 375ml, and that for the magnum is four-fold greater than the 375ml. If the same amount of oxygen is introduced to the bottle early in its lifetime, then it’s simply the increasing volumes which dilute the effects of oxygen over time. Simply put, I would expect the 750ml to age twice as slowly as the 375ml, and the magnum four times as slowly. Of course, I assume that the storage conditions are ideal and the differences from cork to cork are small.
Enough. The wines were lovely, and I was pleased to see that the 2001 is still youthful in its fruit expression. I am confident that it will continue to age gracefully for years to come.
The Dolce display at Far Niente shows wines in a variety of bottle sizes (375ml – 3L) and in a variety of vintages. As Dolce ages, the color turns from honey to a rich amber.
Spring is in full swing here at Far Niente and, folks, it is absolutely glorious! Thousands of azaleas are soaking up their moments in the sunshine—bright, rich pastels painting the understory canvas in our woodland gardens. There to back them up with an abundance of color and scale are a collection of rhododendrons towering throughout the landscape like dense clusters of butterflies awaiting the spring metamorphosis.
Not to be left out of the dance are the many mature flowering trees: pink and white dogwoods, Chinese perfume (fringe) trees and tulip trees, with deep purple-pinks and whites. Maples awash in deep crimsons, burgundies, blood red and velvety greens make their presence known. Even the mighty, live oaks along with the valley oaks get into the act with their long tendrils of flowers welcoming the rush of spring.
All in all, we are enjoying a feast for the senses here at our winery estate gardens—the perfect backdrop for savoring our Napa Cabernet and Chardonnay.
A behind-the-scenes peek at Far Niente and the fine Cabernet and Chardonnay we produce here in Oakville.
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