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CHICAGO WINE JOURNAL: Had me at hello; rest of Far Niente tasting turned heads, too

Submitted by on Jun 22, 2016 – 11:59 am
By Lawrence B. Johnson

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When your palate is switched on by the greeting wine handed to you at the door of a tasting event, chances are this is going to be an affair to remember. My taste buds got just such a jump start when I chose, well, “red” from the proffered tray, and it turned out to be EnRoute’s lovely 2013 Pinot Noir “Les Pommiers.”

EnRouteEnRoute is a Sonoma venture of the high-profile Napa producer Far Niente, whose diverse labels were spotlighted in this tasting. Specifically, the Pinot Noir vineyards cultivated under the EnRoute logo lie in the Russian River Valley, where the river’s cooling influence contributes to some of the finest Pinots in North America.

Before the single-vineyard 2013 Les Pommiers ever reached my palate, its vibrant dark cherry nose already had my attention, and my expectations – which were amply fulfilled by the wine’s generous body, bright flavors and surprisingly sustained finish. ($56)

Other highlights from the Far Niente labels:

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  • TruchardNickel & Nickel Chardonnay Truchard Vineyard 2014. If this luscious wine had been presented under wraps, I well might have taken it for an upper end white Burgundy. What links the Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay, from Carneros at the southern end of Napa, to the great Burgundies is a combination of petrol-buttery flavors, complex structure and generous weight. Talk about a go-to wine: I kept going back to it, even as other wines were poured, until my glass was drained. ($55)
  • Bella Union Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. A recent addition to the Far Niente roster, Bella Union represents the conceptual opposite of single-vineyard wine-making. This distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon is blended from grapes drawn from sundry areas of the Napa Valley. The result, certainly in the 2013 wine, is a sharply focused array of dark fruit flavors, blueberry prominent among them, that’s instantly engaging and lingering on the finish. The Bella Union Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 should be a natural companion to summer dinners from the grill. ($85)
  • Far NienteFar Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. Like the Bordeaux producers on whose creations Far Niente was modeled, this Napa star crafts one red wine each vintage. Even as many prominent Bordeaux wineries now turn out second and third wines, Far Niente abides strictly by its principle of putting its whole effort into one. (The company’s name comes from the Italian expression “dolce far niente,” variously rendered as “the sweetness of doing nothing” and “sweet idleness.”) The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is what the French would call grand vin. Its deep ruby-purple color and the complex dark fruit on the nose give way to a flavor menu of luscious dark fruits supported by ripe tannins. Impressive as the wine is now, its true grandeur lies somewhere down the road. This is one for the cellar treasury. ($155).

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