Delia Viader born in Argentina founded Napa Valley Viader in 1986 on the steep rocky slopes of Howell Mountain at over 1200 feet elevation. Their first wine was produced in 1989 with cabernet sauvignon blended with cabernet franc. This was daring at the time and their new wine Dare is using 100% cabernet franc. Delia just hosted in Vancouver a family tasting including her son Alan Director of Operations, daughter Janet Sales & Marketing and daughter in law Mariela Viader Executive Chef showing 12 vintages back to a surprising lively stylish 1990 (32% cab franc). My favs included a sweet chocolate 1993 with 40% cab franc (bottle of 94 a bit too earthy), riper full rich 97, (98 lighter more herbal), an outstanding 99, more modern style 04 and impressive classic 2009 for the cellar. They know cab sauv will ripen well but the canopy management is important to protect the cab franc in the hot summers to get that distinctive elegant floral lift for the terroir.
Interesting that recently Ray Signorello hosted during the Vancouver International Wine Festival tastings of his Estate cab as well as a vertical of his Padrone back to the original one in 97 (containing 16.5% merlot). Ray has now decided from 09 onwards to use no merlot in either his Signorello Estate or Padrone cabs. Will blend in cab franc if it is a good year for it and it helps the quality for longer aging.
I congratulated Delia for deciding so early on for her property that cab sauv and cab franc worked best in the blend. Asked Alan if he was thinking of now using merlot to add roundness and softer middle texture but he says he can get that already through his cab sauv because of the very steep vineyards. Viader remains in good family hands and it looks like another 20 years of traditional excellent quality!
What are your thoughts about the best grape varieties for red blends you have tried from Napa?