Update: Visitors are welcome by appointment for a personal barrel tasting at our winery. Please go to our winery website for information. www.farella.com
Last weekend was the annual Napa Valley Vintner's "Premiere" Auction (website). This event raises money for the association to help fund the membership and promotion for the other, bigger charity event in June.
I've always enjoyed this event going back to the first year in 1996 (?) because of it's emphasis on, what else, WINE. Each vintner gets a barrel for a table, a carafe and a towel -- that's it. This time around, there were 192 lots available for the trade to purchase as one-of-a-kind 5, 10 or 20-case items. Later, we bottle the wine separately and package them up with the NVV label.
There are a few analogies to this event around the world. Probably the Hospice de Beaune auction in Burgundy is the most famous. The similarity ends, however, at the fact that it is a comparison of barrel lots. In the Burgundy version, the wines represent the various climats of the region and is a fascinating representation of the particular vintage in the Cote d'Or. In our case, it represents the wineries' particular style and barrel lot choice amongst peers in the neighborhood. The varietals and blends tend to vary widely and the winery is responsible for presenting something truly unique for this event. Naturally, because of the region, there are a lot of Cabernets and Cabernet blends to compare. Our lot is a 2 barrel blend from sub-blocks on our estate, one from our "Rockpile" block and one from our venerable "Old Vine" block. After our 5-case commitment is bottled, the remainder usually goes into our Alta Bordeaux blend.
I really love this event and wish there were more opportunities for tasters to participate in this kind of thing. It really is fascinating to see, wine-for-wine, how all the lots compare. The sub-appellations can really be examined here and the individual vintners' choices within the framework are also fascinating. The biggest thing missing is the marketing hoopla (flower arrangements, fancy wood boxes, exquisite stuff for display, perfectly professional marketing staff, press kits, ad nauseum paper information and SCORES). One barrel, one carafe, one wineries' best shot to impress amongst peers and the wine trade. Wine, yes, wine.