Wine Tasting Notes, 2008: Viader, Howell Mountain

viaderYesterday I attended an event at Viader, which is located along the hillside of Howell Mountain, about 1200 feet off the valley floor. The tasting room is a quaint little space, with a back patio that features a great view of the upper Napa Valley and the Bell Canyon Reservoir. The event featured pass-around hors d’oeuvre, including duck-confit beignets, black-pepper gougeres, Chinese spoons with polenta and mushrooms, and puff pastries with lamb, goat cheese and tomato confit.

The winery had several wines available for tasting, and I naturally sampled them all. Viader offered a vertical of their proprietary Bordeaux blend, with vintages ranging from 2002, 2003 and 2004. Viader’s proprietary Bordeaux is always a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and my favorite of the three was actually their most recent offering ($90), which was 60% Cab Sauv-40% Cab Franc. The other two vintages were also strong wines, but they were both a little too “old world” on the nose for my taste.

Viader was also pouring their 2003 “V” wine, which is a unique Petite Verdot blend. For me, the “V” was both interesting and good, but was also a little too pricey ($100) for the novelty of Petite Verdot. In most instances, Petit Verdot is used merely as a blending grape for Cabernet Sauvignon (and even then, in very small percentages). From an educational standpoint, it’s always enlightening to taste these lesser-known varietals when they take center stage, but to purchase a Petit Verdot blend at Cabernet prices seemed a touch extravagant.

My favorite value of the night was actually the 2004 Dare Cabernet Sauvignon, which is bottled as Viader’s second label (I assume that “Dare” is a play on the pronunciation of Viader’s last syllable). The Dare Cabernet was smooth and well-crafted, and it presented a terrific value ($40) for a wine made with Howell Mountain fruit (some of the grapes also come from Lewelling Vineyards in St. Helena).

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