For your red-wine loving father (or father to your children) there’s a Napa red that gives cause to celebrate any day. On Napa’s Howell Mountain, Viader is an organic vineyard planted at 1,300 feet. It was founded in 1986 by Delia Viader, whose doctorate degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne in Paris might qualify her as one more offbeat Californian opening a Napa winery were it not for the fact that she was born in Argentina and reared in Europe.
Viader started the winery with a loan from her father and night classes in enology at the University of California at Davis. Enamored with the wine from Bordeaux’s great Chateau Cheval Blanc, Viader mimicked the blend of Cheval Blanc by planting cabernet franc to blend with Napa Valley’s acclaimed cabernet sauvignon.
Last month, I met her daughter, 35-year-old Janet, who serves as the marketing director, at Manhattan’s Aureole restaurant. As she poured the 2014 Viader Proprietary Red Blend, she explained that of the estate’s 95 acres, only 29 were planted, thanks to the foundation of volcanic rock and a 32-degree incline. A few of those contained underground boulders that had to be dynamited.
Though California was still in the grips of a drought in 2014, late-winter and early-spring rains delivered enough water for Napa’s vines to flourish. Very warm temperatures, without many heat spikes, allowed the grapes to ripen evenly, delivering the valley’s third consecutive high-quality harvest.
Black-tea aroma and taste are cabernet franc markers for me. Although the 2014 Viader blend is 28 percent cabernet franc, that accent was not present as I inhaled and sipped the wine. In its place, was a very elegant blend of the two grapes; intertwined perfectly by winemaker Alan Viader, Delia’s 37-year-old son. The 2014 Viader offered a hint of bay leaf as it released black-olive and blackberry aromas and flavors, with an undertone of vanilla from the 20 months aging in French oak barrels.
If Chateau Cheval Blanc is the model, the 2014 Viader Proprietary Red Blend—reflecting its Napa heritage—has a bigger mouthfeel than its ideal, but is just as refined. 91 points. Expect to pay about $170 (the 2014 Cheval Blanc is about $450).
Viader’s love for cabernet franc extends to the 2015 Viader DARE®, a pure cabernet franc wine. Its name is a play on Viader (VEE-ah-dare), and Delia Viader’s audacity to make a pure Napa Valley cabernet franc wine in the land of cabernet sauvignon. The grapes are sourced from various vineyards in the valley.
Even in another drought year and less favorable growing conditions than 2014, the 2015 DARE® is fruit driven with its black-cherry and red-plum aromas and flavors. Plush tannins make this youthful wine instantly appealing and drinkable. 89 points. Currently available only at the winery at $70
“Father’s Day is about spending time with and appreciating the man who raised you. It doesn’t all have to be about the stereotypical ties and socks. When it comes to finding the perfect gift for dad, there’s nothing better than kicking your feet up, grabbing some wine, and sharing conversation over the perfect bottle. Here are five big red wines to share with your dad on Father’s Day.
VIADER Cabernet Franc – Vanilla, sweet caramel, and a hint of tobacco. If your dad loves wine that makes a statement, he won’t be able to resist this powerful Cabernet Franc.”
Auction Napa Valley’s Top Eight Live Auction Lots
Masterful Visions in the World of Wine: $2.1 million
Donated by Colgin Cellars. Included a trip for two couples to Napa and dinner with the Colgins, combined with a trip to Paris and Reims, including dinners and a private tour and tasting at Krug. The lot was doubled and then tripled, with each selling for $700,000.
Magnifica Italia: $1.5 million
Donated by Antica Napa Valley – Antinori Family Wine Estate and Staglin Family Vineyards. Trip for two couples to Tuscany and visits to wineries such as Antinori nel Chianti Classico, Biondi-Santi, and Tenuta di Biserno, plus dinners, tours and accommodations. The lot was tripled, with each selling for $500,000.
Japan: Awe and Enchantment: $720,000
Donated by Dalla Valle Vineyards. A week-long trip for two to Japan including dinners with Naoko and Maya Dalla Valle, and a tasting at Kusumi Sake Brewery, plus an imperial of wine. Highest single lot of the day.
From Howell Mountain to the Andean Mountains: $520,000
Donated by Viader Vineyards and Winery. Four-night stay in St. Helena for four, including blending sessions at Viader, combined with a guided trip to Argentina. The lot was doubled, with each selling for $260,000.
Chairs’ Lot: $460,000
“This week’s installment is all red, and includes some very tasty bottles. Let’s start with the star of this week, the latest release of Viader’s proprietary red blend from the hills above Napa Valley. Just up the hill from Calistoga, Viader has got one of the best views in Napa, and somehow the majesty comes through in the wine, which is regal and quite elegant.
2014 Viader Red Blend, Napa Valley, Napa, California – Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, tobacco leaf, and exotic flowers. In the mouth, beautiful cherry and cocoa powder flavors mix with cola nut and a hint of tobacco. Fine grained tannins wrap around the core of fruit even as excellent acidity keeps the fruit gushing across the palate with fairly little trace of oak. Wonderfully balanced and elegant. A blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc. 14.8% alcohol. 1811 cases made. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $150.”
The Napa Valley is one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world, with over 400 wineries producing some of the most sought after wines. But, it’s the people behind the place that make the liquids so legendary.
In this video, Wine Oh TV’s Monique Soltani goes behind the bottle with one of Napa Valley’s leading ladies. Delia Viader has been daring to do things differently for three decades. As one of Napa Valley’s first female winemakers, she’s seen her shares of ups and downs, and still found a way to come out on top and turned wine tragedy into a new opportunity.
In 1986, Delia Viader turned her vision of creating a Napa Valley winery on a rocky piece of land on Howell Mountain into a reality. Carving out a place for herself in what is now one of the most competitive wine regions in the world. With her family in mind, she decided to set roots and live off the land. Little did she know how rocky her road would become.
In 2005, Delia had turned Viader Vineyards and Winery into a multimillion-dollar business and in an instant her empire turned to ash, when an arsonist set fire to the warehouse where Delia’s wine was stored. She lost her entire 2003 vintage that was already sold to restaurants, distributors and exporters.
That’s 84,000 bottles and 4.5 million dollars up in smoke. Read more about in the New York Times best seller Tangled Vines. Delia turned to her family and turned her business around. Today, Delia Viader reigns Queen of Cab Country.”