Far Niente Chardonnay
|Region||California, United States|
|Brand||Far Niente Winery|
Far Niente Chardonnay is a blend of superlative Napa Valley vineyards, located in Coombsville, a cool growing region nestled in the rolling countryside and protected by the hills east of the city of Napa. Coombsville offers the characteristic climate of Carneros, with less wind, along with deeper, well-drained gravelly loam and volcanic ash soils. The combination of these spectacular vineyards results in the subtle, tropical flavors, complex aromas and uncommon richness that have long been associated with Far Niente Chardonnay.
The 2013 growing season began with a wet and snowy December and gave way to dry conditions in January and February. A warm spring encouraged early bud break and bloom, and favored a beautiful, uniform set in the Chardonnay vineyards. Summer brought a brief heat wave in early July, and temperatures mellowed to perfect ripening weather in August. An early harvest began on August 27, and it took nearly one month of steady picking to bring in the beautifully ripened Chardonnay fruit.
The 2013 Far Niente Chardonnay offers tropical aromas of citrus and melon layered with honeysuckle, perfume and toasted oak. A juicy entry transitions to a vibrant, yet oily, palate, which builds to a clean and refreshing finish. This wine is well-integrated and beautifully concentrated, with lush citrus flavors and hints of minerality.
Far Niente was founded in 1885 by John Benson, a forty-niner of the California gold rush and uncle of the famous American impressionist painter, Winslow Homer. Benson hired architect Hamden McIntyre, creator of the former Christian Brothers winery—now the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone—to design the building. Constructed against a hillside in western Oakville, Far Niente functioned as a gravity flow winery, gently moving the grapes through each stage of production.
Far Niente prospered until the onset of Prohibition in 1919, when it was abandoned and left to fall into disrepair. Sixty years later, in 1979, Gil Nickel purchased the winery and adjacent vineyard and began a three-year restoration of the property, which resulted in placement on the National Register of Historical Places. During restoration, the original name, Far Niente, from an Italian phrase that romantically translated means “without a care,” was found carved in stone on the front of the building where it remains to this day. We felt an obligation to preserve the name with the hope that we could recapture a bygone era when life was indeed without a care.
Nineteen eighty-two marked the return of winemaking to Far Niente, with the harvest of the winery’s first Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay was also produced at the winery for the first time that year; the 1979, ’80 and ’81 vintage wines were made at an offsite location. Today, the winery continues to focus on producing only the two varietal wines.