After making Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for more than three decades, we’ve learned a few things about crafting “age-worthy” wines. One such thing is that the decision to stash a wine in the quietest corner of your wine cellar, or to pull the cork on that bottle and drink it upon release, is a matter of personal taste.
It was wine’s subjectivity that inspired us to create a Far Niente Cabernet Vintage Chartthat eschews the traditional drink/hold model of vintage charts and serves more as a storied, interactive timeline of our vineyards and vintages from Oakville, Napa Valley.
From a science and viticulture standpoint, however, a wine needs to possess specific traits in order to endure – if not transform – over the course of 10, 20, even 50 years of cellaring.
Although there are dozens of qualities we look for in our vineyards and wines, for now, we’ll distill it down to our Age-Worthy Cabernet Top Four:
Assuming you’ve got the vineyard to grow the raw material with the great tannin, color and acidity (and that you don’t over – or under – do it with oak), what steps are required in the winery to ensure your wines retain these qualities? There are the basics – possessing a sound knowledge of winemaking, maintaining great equipment, employing that top notch barrel program. At Far Niente, we also take some subtle steps that we believe help a wine not only survive but also improve over time. Below, are three we consider to be key,
Even if you hold your team to the most exacting standards, the key to making a wine that not only holds up, but also beautifully transforms, over time extends beyond great science and good housekeeping.
That’s the elusive magic of wine, isn’t it?
"For us, each vintage is our opportunity to make our greatest wine. It’s what drives us each day," says Far Niente President and CEO Larry Maguire.
How each of us defines the phrase, “greatest wine,” is truly subjective. For some, a wine’s greatness is most evident over time, when fruit and tannin have softened, exposing some of the more subtle earth and spice undertones in a wine. Others appreciate the bursts of bright fruit and intensity of flavors found in young wines. And then there are the wine lovers who find themselves planted firmly between these two extreme poles. Even among our expert winemaking team, everyone has a different “drink now” window for their wines.
Of course, to make that personal decision of “when” to drink a wine, you must first have a wine with the structural integrity to last. In other words, objectively speaking, you do need the science and the good housekeeping and, most importantly, the raw material to craft a wine that holds up, that lives and evolves over time. As Far Niente Winemaker Nicole Marchesi puts it, “The quality and ageability of each vintage is always a combination of factors, but they all harken back to our Martin Stelling Vineyard, the cornerstone of our Far Niente Estate Cabernet.”
After giving us more than 33 vintages, our Oakville vineyard has quite the story to tell. As do our wines. We hope our personalized version of a Napa Valley Vintage Chart paints a rich picture of how our estate-grown wines evolve and develop over time. We even hope that it helps you in your journey to find your own “wine window” for aging – and more importantly drinking! – Napa Valley wines.
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