Jade Mountain Mt. Veeder Paras Vineyard Viognier 2003
Set on top of Mount Veeder, overlooking Napa Valley, Paras Vineyard is a unique site. The vineyard is made up of shale in various fractured states with little actual soil. The vines are carefully trellised and closely hedged, forcing them to struggle and compete for water and nutrients. The vineyard location creates a steep northeast-facing slope for the Viognier, away from the direct sun. These steeply terraced rows and rocky soils keep the yields small and the flavor concentration high.
Budbreak in 2003 was a little later than normal, so March heat and April rain did not affect quality. Flavors were late in developing, and considerable shrivel occurred before the distinctive ethereal yet powerful Jade Mountain Viognier character kicked in mid October.
Paras Vineyard, Jade Mountain's flagship vineyard, rests on the upper slopes of Mount Veeder, overlooking the Napa Valley. With rocky vine terraces and eastern exposures reminiscent of the finest Northern Rhône vineyards, Paras Vineyard grows Syrah and other Rhône grapes of truly exciting quality. From this and other select vineyards, Jade Mountain creates Syrah, Mourvèdre, Viognier and a proprietary southern Rhône-style blend called La Provençale
Jade Mountain uses only the highest-quality grapes and practices traditional winemaking techniques to produce wines displaying intense fruit and spice and silky smoothness on the palate. These wines are appealing in their youth as well as eminently age-worthy.
Centered at the peak for which it is named, Mount Veeder is Napa’s largest sub-AVA. But even though the entire appellation spreads over 16,000 acres, vineyards cover a mere 1,000. Scattered among Douglas firs and bristlecone pines, Mount Veeder vineyards extend south from the upper elevations of the Mayacamas Mountains—the highest point at 2,400 feet—to the border of the Carneros region. Less than 25 wineries produce wine from Mount Veeder fruit.
Winemaking began early in this appellation. In 1864, Captain Stelham Wing presented the first Mount Veeder wine to the Napa County Fair; it came from today’s Wing Canyon Vineyard. Prohibition, of course, halted winemaking and viticulture wasn’t revitalized until the founding of Mayacamas Vineyards in 1951 and Bernstein Vineyards in 1964.
The Bernstein Vineyards was actually home to the first Petit Verdot in California, planted in 1975. Today most of the Petit Verdot in Napa Valley originates from this vineyard.
Rocky volcanic clay and ancient seabed matter dominate Mount Veeder soils—perfect for Bordeaux varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot enjoy spectacular success. These varieties produce wines rich in brambly blackberry and black cherry fruit with herbal and floral aromatics. Structures are moderate to assertive and wines have great staying power.
Chardonnay from Mount Veeder is lush, full and balanced mineral and fresh citrus flavors.
Full-figured and charmingly floral, Viognier is one of the most important white grapes of the northern Rhône where it is used both to produce single varietal wines and as an important blending grape. Look for great New World examples from California, Oregon, Washington and cooler parts of Australia. Somm Secret—Viognier plays a surprisingly important role in the red wines of Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhône. About 5% Viognier is typically co-fermented with the Syrah in order to stabilize the color, and as an added benefit, add a subtle perfume.